Waste Tyre Statistics for Ireland

EPA waste data release, 15 Oct. 2021. Latest reference year 2019.

Waste tyres pose a threat to the atmosphere, to land, soil, water, plants and animals if they are not managed properly. Where they are dumped in our environment, they have a significant negative visual impact on our landscape.

Tyres become waste when worn-out tyres on a vehicle are replaced; and, unless reused, they become waste when the vehicle they are on is transferred to an authorised treatment facility. Our section on end-of-life vehicles provides more information on end-of-life vehicles arising in Ireland, and reuse, recycling and other recovery of this waste. 

When waste tyres are collected by authorised waste collectors and transferred to authorised waste treatment facilities, very high recycling percentages can be achieved. Well-managed tyre waste therefore supports the circular economy. 

Key trends

  • A total of 46,424 tonnes of waste tyres were managed1 in Ireland in 20192. This represents little change on the 46,501 tonnes managed in 2018.
  • Figure 1 shows that, in 2019, the vast majority (88 per cent) of waste tyres that entered the waste management network in Ireland were recycled (either in Ireland or abroad); down from 94 per cent in 2018.
  • There was a notable increase in the tonnage of waste tyres crumbed for recycling in Ireland, up from 9,307 tonnes (19 per cent) in 2018, to 12,061 tonnes (26 per cent) in 2019.
  • Despite this, a large majority (73 per cent) of waste tyres were still exported for final treatment abroad in 2019 (mainly to Asian countries).
  • Of the waste tyres exported in 2019, the vast majority were recycled (93 per cent), 6 per cent went for energy recovery and less than 1 per cent were prepared for reuse.
  • The share of waste tyres used for energy recovery increased significantly from 4 per cent (2,050 tonnes) in 2018 to 10 per cent (4,761 tonnes) in 2019. A high percentage of a waste tyre can be recycled, but there is a small portion that is non-recyclable. This non-recyclable material arising from the tyre treatment process is typically forwarded to waste facilities for energy recovery.

Figure 2 shows how waste tyres moved through the waste treatment network in Ireland in 2019. Most waste tyres are collected by authorised waste collectors and brought to a waste facility; and, unless they are used as ballast, they are either baled or pre-treated before the final treatment step.

The most common treatment route in 2019 was baling of waste tyres at Irish waste facilities followed by export and final treatment abroad. This accounted for 64 per cent of the waste tyres managed in 2019. The second most common treatment route was crumbing of waste tyres in Ireland followed by recycling in Ireland and abroad. This accounted for 26 per cent of waste tyres managed in 2019.

These data indicate that most waste tyres that enter the waste management network in Ireland end up being recycled either in Ireland or abroad (40,747 tonnes or 88 per cent in 2019). Recycled tyres are typically used in equestrian arenas, sports pitches, rubber mat products, flower beds and various other products.

 Figure 2. Waste tyre management in Ireland 2019.

Sankey diagram waste tyres 2019

*This figure excludes tyres that were exported as a part of depolluted End-of-life vehicles. 

  • Table 1. Waste tyres final treatment activities, 2019

    Open in Excel: Waste tyres final treatment 2018-2019 (XLS 16KB)

Tyre data collection

The EPA data on waste tyres draw on multiple data sources including EPA surveys, data from the National Waste Collection Permit Office, data on exports from the National Transfrontier Shipments Office, and information from the tyres producer compliance scheme Repak ELT. It should be noted that the figures reported here exclude the large quantities of historic waste tyres that remain outside the waste management network and the waste tyres that did not enter the waste management network in 2019.

Tyre producer compliance scheme

To ensure that waste tyres are handled in an environmentally sound manner, a producer compliance scheme for tyres and waste tyres, operated by Repak ELT, was introduced in October 2017, underpinned by the Tyres and Waste Tyres Regulations 2017. The scheme currently only includes car and motorcycle tyres and does not account for truck, agricultural or construction tyres (note: the EPA data presented encompasses data on all types of waste tyres managed in 2019). The Waste Action Plan for a Circular Economy includes a commitment that the tyres producer compliance scheme will be extended to also include van, truck, bus, and agricultural tyres.

There are no statutory recycling or recovery targets set down in the Tyres Regulations, however Repak ELT has minimum targets it is obligated to meet by the end of 2019 and each subsequent year as part of its Ministerial approval:

• A recovery rate of 70% of all tyres collected, and
• A recycling rate of 30% of all tyres collected.

References:

[1] Waste management means the collection, transport, recovery and disposal of waste, including the supervision of such operations and the after-care of disposal sites, and including actions taken as a dealer or broker. (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52008AG0004&from=EN)

[2] This figure excludes tyres that were exported as a part of depolluted End-of-life vehicles.