Need for greater waste tyre management in India - GulfToday

Need for greater waste tyre management in India

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Turning waste into opportunity — Efficient waste tire management for a greener tomorrow.

Turning waste into opportunity — Efficient waste tire management is a must for a greener tomorrow.

Waste tyres are a great environmental concern. With a rising demand for vehicles in India, there has been a corresponding increase in the use of tyres leading to more waste tyres, according to a Mongabay-India (MI)report. Scrap tyre comes under the category of hazardous waste owing to its potential to cause fires and resultant toxic emissions in air and water, the report adds.

As the Basel Convention website states, tyres are not biodegradable and take up much physical space and are difficult to compact, collect and eliminate. Inadequate disposal can block water channels and lead to erosion and increased flooding rise. Piled tyres increase the risk of fires, generating smoke, oil and toxic contaminants polluting air, oil and water. Moreover, waste pneumatic tyres can represent ideal homes for rodents and breeding sites for mosquitoes that transmit diseases.

The MI report points out that in December 2022, India became the world’s third-largest automobile market, surpassing Japan. The sector accounts for around seven per cent of India’s gross domestic product. As the vehicle market expands, there is a corresponding growth in the Indian tyre market. Tyre production in India rose by 21% in 2022 and a further 6% in 2023, reaching a total production of 217.4 million units in a year. By weight, 2.5 million metric tonnes (MT) of tyres have been produced in India annually since 2019.

This growth, however, has taken the total tyre waste handled in India to nearly 2.8 million MT, according to experts quoted by the MI report. Waste tyres constitute about one per cent of the total municipal solid waste in India, according to a 2021 report by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA), highlighted by the MI report. However, tyres are non-biodegradable and occupy significant space in waste dumping areas. Water stagnation in recklessly discarded tyres makes them an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes and rodents. Given its potential to retain heat, fuel derived from rubber tyres, though banned, is a cost-effective but polluting fuel in brick kilns and jaggery-making units. Burning tyres emit carcinogenic pollutants such as aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins, furans, etc. Tyres also catch fire easily, which, once ignited, is difficult to put out. India was discarding 275,000 tyres every day in 2021, as per the MoHUA report, which adds that there is no tracking of these discarded tyres and monitoring of their disposal across India.

A recent article in The Wire stated that of the 1.5 billion plus waste tyres that are generated every year worldwide, six per cent is in India. The article adds that the Union environment ministry’s draft notification, published on December 31, 2021, proposes to regulate the disposal of such waste tyres by enforcing the extended producer responsibility. This policy extends the responsibility of the producer, or importer, to include the disposal of waste tyres, and frees consumers from having to worry about responsible disposal. According to the notification, manufacturers and importers of tyres, including waste tyres, will have to ensure that all their products are recycled in line with the government’s standards, and they will have until 2024 to start complying. In addition, India also imports around 300,000 tonnes of tyres to recycle every year. They are subject to thermochemical treatments in high temperature to produce industrial oil and other derivatives. Pollution from these sources, the article says, is a big concern.

The materials recovered out of waste tyres are reclaimed rubber, crumb rubber, crumb rubber modified bitumen (CRMB), Recovered Carbon Black (RCB) and Tyre Pyrolysis Oil (TPO) and its char. Besides these, old tyres can be reused by undergoing retreading and regrooving processes. Reclaim and crumb rubber are used to make conveyor belts, doormats, floor tiles for gymnasiums, play and walking areas, bicycle pedals, shoe soles, pots, rubber sheets, hosepipes, and battery containers. CRMB is used as an additive to bitumen in making roads. Rubberised bitumen is less prone to temperature variation and rain than ordinary bitumen and “more resistant to thermal cracking, fatigue cracking, rutting, moisture damage and age hardening. Till 2017, over 125,000 km of road had been laid using CRMB. This is the most environment-friendly disposal of waste tyres, according to experts.


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