EIO - Genan
Genan is the world’s largest recycler of scrap tyres. The company's technology enables scrap tyres to be recycled into high-quality rubber powder and granulate, substituting new raw materials in high-end applications such as artificial turf, noise-reduction asphalt and in the near future in the production of new tires. The steel is separated in a purity that allows it to replace new iron ore in steel production. Genan has four plants in Denmark and Germany with a total capacity of 275,000 tonnes / year, and is currently building a 100,000 tons plant in Houston, Texas, USA.
Comprehensive life cycle assessment studies have shown that significant environmental benefits in areas like greenhouse gas emissions, acidification and fossil fuel demand are achieved if scrap tyres are recycled through the Genan method instead of incinerated or used in civil engineering filling operations. Material recycling through the Genan method compared to other disposal methods saves 1-2 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of scrap tyres.
Genan’s recycling technology was originally developed in 1990 and has undergone continuous development ever since. The scrap tyres are separated into their basic components: rubber powder and granulate, steel and textile. The end products are uniform and clean and therefore very well suited for high quality substitution applications, such as asphalt and bitumen modification which makes the roads stronger and longer lasting. This leads to saved maintenance costs and less time spent on repair works. The use of Genan’s rubber powder in asphalt and bitumen modification avoids the production of virgin alternative modifiers like styrene-butadiene-styrene.
The recycled rubber granulate is also being used as high-quality infill material for artificial turf pitches. The use of artificial turf is highly recommended by international soccer organizations such as FIFA since it helps the development of football in all parts of the world as well as provide the opportunity to play all year round at low maintenance costs.
However, even more interesting is the current cradle-to-cradle joint research development project together with the large tyre manufacturer, Pirelli, which hopefully will lead to the substitution of 10 % of all natural rubber in the production of new tyres. The last 5 years' price increase on virgin rubber has resulted in an increasing focus on raw material substitution and the preliminary results are promising.
Barriers and Drivers
The main barrier and driver is national and international legislation concerning the treatment and disposal of scrap tyres. It is of paramount importance that the waste hierachy, giving preference to material recycling over incineration and filling operations, is reflected in both EU and national legislation.
The high quality raw materials originally invested in the production of the new tyres should not be wasted using low-level environmentally solutions such as incineration and filling. Politicians should therefore set up a framework that favours the best available technology and solutions that that helps avoid the production of new raw materials: natural rubber, synthetic rubber, iron ore.
A legislative framework should also set standards for the quality of the output and promote the use use of the output in substitution applications, e.g. modification of bitumen and asphalt in public financed infrastructure projects, thus turning a waste burden into a environmentally as well as socio-economically benefit.
For more information about the economic performance of the recycling of scrap tyres the executive summary of the Deloitte study "A welfare economic analysis of material recycling versus co-incineration of scrap tyres":
For more information, download the executive summaries of our life cycle analysis "LCA - Material recycling vs. co-incineration" and "LCA - Material recycling vs. civil engineering":
For more information please visit the homepage of Genan: http://www.genan.eu/home-1.aspx