When you’re ready to dispose of your old tyres, the correct and responsible course of action is to recycle them. Many tyre retailers will be happy to recycle your scrap tyres for you when you buy a new set. If the tyre retailer doesn’t offer a tyre recycling scheme, then the next option is to contact a certified waste management and disposal company. They will have a dedicated facility to ensure proper disposal of your old tyres in a legally compliant and environmentally sound manner.
In fact, Continental has a subsidiary company in Germany that does precisely that. The Reifen-Entsorgungsgesellschaft mbH (REG) has been in operation since 1992. With REG, Continental has the distinction of being the first tyre manufacturer in Germany to take responsibility for the disposal of their products. The services provided by REG are regarded highly by industrial rubber-processing companies, plus many specialist tyre retail chains, car dealerships, garages, communities and private individuals.
Please note that the practice of dumping old tyres in landfill sites is banned in the EU and elsewhere. In a landfill, tyres can take up a significant amount of space. If they trap methane gases, there is also a risk they may become buoyant and rise to the surface. This action can rupture landfill liners, which leads to the spread of contaminants from polluting surface and groundwater.
Did you know that the cement industry makes a significant contribution to the recycling of scrap tyres? Thanks to their high energy content, the waste is converted into tyre-derived fuel for kilns in the cement-making process. Elsewhere, the steel and silica contained in the tyres also find uses as secondary raw materials.
Material from shredded tyres also finds a second life as tyre-derived products. The steel and textile components are extracted and recycled separately during the shredding process. Next, the pure rubber granulate goes into the manufacture of panels to provide buildings with protection, like insulation and sealing. And as fine-particle granulate, it becomes elastic filler material on sports grounds with artificial grass.
Even finer material such as rubber powder can be used in the construction of roads, for example as a tarmac layer capable of absorbing noise.
The topic of sustainability is high on the agenda at Continental. We continually strive to make our tyres more energy efficient and eco-friendly, with specialists from a wide variety of fields collaborating in the areas of research and development, testing and production.
Their brief is to improve not just manufacturing, but also the use and recycling stages of a tyre’s life cycle. The teams examine every single tyre component and – where possible – propose substituting them with new materials that are more compatible with the environment.
This focus on greater sustainability has already made a positive impact on the production line at Continental. An innovative and award-winning process, the ContiLifeCycle plant, can harvest waste rubber for reuse in tyre production at the same time as end-of-life truck tyres are retreaded and brought back into service.
Elsewhere, we have tyres for hybrid and electric vehicles that deliver a 30-per-cent improvement in rolling resistance over a standard tyre, which helps reduce CO2 emissions. With this tyre fitted, hybrid cars can travel further in electric mode without engaging the internal combustion engine. And tyre developers at Continental have not compromised on safety to achieve this improved rolling resistance; the tyre has EU Tyre Label “A” ratings for both rolling resistance and braking distances in wet conditions.
Another one of our sustainability activities is to obtain rubber from the dandelion flower. In cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology, the objective is to use natural latex derived from the roots of the dandelion as a commercially viable substitute for natural latex from rainforest plantations.
Best of all, the dandelions can grow on land considered unsuitable for food crops, so that creating a rubber plantation adjacent to a tyre plant in Central Europe makes sense both economically and ecologically. Some of the advantages of this approach are as follows:
Up to 30 percent of the rubber in a standard car tyre comes from the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), so the benefits of this alternative source are immediately apparent.