Industry players and markets

Rematec meets Green Tire

Wednesday, 12 June 2024

Roberto Bianco, president of Green Tire, presents the Italian company dedicated to the disposal of end-of-life tires within a context related to remanufacturing, sustainability, and new regulations for the sector of end-of-life tires (ELTs).

Green Tire is a non-profit organization whose participants are essentially the manufacturers and importers of tires who have turned to us for the management of end-of-life tires.

Could you explain better what this association represents and how it is structured?

In Italy, there is a decree issued in 2011 and reiterated in 2019 that enforces the extended producer responsibility (a well-known European regulation) and obliges tire importers to manage the end-of-life of each tire marketed. This is where Green Tire comes into play, at the moment when the product becomes waste, that is, when it has completed its life cycle and has become an end-of-life tire. At this point, there are two destinations: one is material recovery, meaning the breakdown of its original components such as rubber, fibres, and metals; the other is disposal in a waste-to-energy plant to convert it into electricity. Green Tire was founded in 2011 with a clear mission: to commit to recovering as much material as possible, amounting to 98% of end-of-life tires.

What is your added value, and why do you stand out from the others?

First of all, because there is no one else in Italy that achieves 98% material recovery. The companies with the highest rates reach less than half of ours. Those that achieve high rates only reach 45%. We have a lower environmental pollution coefficient than others. The focus of our mission is precisely the maximum recovery of material from end-of-life tires.

Another reason is Green Tire's forward-looking perspective: we are not interested in just talking about what we are doing today but aim to be a benchmark for others regarding the future, with particular attention to legislative updates related to end-of-life tire management. The current decree from 2019 is starting to show its age, as five years have passed since it was enacted, and there are always those who try to find loopholes in the regulations for their own benefit.

A new regulation for the end-of-life tire (ELT) sector

An in-depth analysis of the sector and knowledge of the vulnerabilities of Italian DM 182/2019 led Green Tire to propose the introduction of new guiding principles and a complete rewriting of the regulation, aiming at a true ecological transition. Redefining the stakeholders in the supply chain and assigning each of them specific rights and duties could help eliminate the current grey areas, ensuring that the Ministry has access to real-time, objective data, which would also be useful for evaluating the performance of the management entities. To ensure the impartiality of this revolutionary regulation from any particular interest, Eticos will be implemented. Eticos is an innovative management system developed in collaboration with the Politecnico di Milano University, Department of Electronics, Information, and Bioengineering. It is capable of identifying and monitoring the critical issues for the proper functioning of the supply chain. The regulatory framework, which targets not the input from the previous year but the arising (i.e., the actual quantity of ELTs present in the territory), is based on four operational pillars, representing a real paradigm shift, namely:

  • A collection criterion different from the current one (geographic), replacing it with the "difficulty of reach" of the waste generation point.
  • The inclusion of tire specialists as stakeholders with rights and duties.
  • The establishment of a direct relationship between each waste generation point and the management entity.
  • The establishment of a coordination centre similar to the one already in place for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE).

Furthermore, aspects not currently addressed by the existing decree have not been neglected. These include incentives for those who achieve significant results in material recovery, the lack of management of retreated tires and carcasses, the lack of distinction between those who import tires not for commercial purposes but for their private use (e.g., trucking fleets), and the detailed evaluation of the expenses of management entities, primarily in communication and research projects. With the sole aim of providing a service to the sector and, consequently, to the entire country, starting from a blank slate, without prejudices or pre-established positions, we have developed an innovative regulation that, we believe, could solve many of the problems we currently face. And since every good regulation, if not correctly applied, becomes futile, we have devised, with the invaluable and qualified support of professors from Politecnico di Milano, a software capable of evaluating and monitoring the activities of all involved parties. It highlights, in a documented and objective manner, any critical issues, allowing for the assignment of specific responsibilities and consequently resolving these problems. We have sought to draft a fair and objective regulation, capable of abolishing possible interpretations that favour a sort of self-management of ELTs flows by the designated entities, with the aim of opening up the supply chain to more ambitious and sustainable goals.

Indeed, it is estimated that there is a difference of approximately 30-40 thousand tons of tires between the official input data and the arising data. In the replacement tire market, this quantity results in a failure to pay the environmental contribution for collection and recycling of about 12 million euros, an estimated VAT evasion of around 80 million euros, and a risk of environmental abandonment of end-of-life tires resulting from illegal activities.

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