Ahead of October's Sustainability in Tires
, we heard from expert speaker, Petar Davcev
, Portfolio Leader - Materials Performance & Testing at National Transport Research Organisation ,
to get a sneak peek of what we can expect from his presentation on: Innovations and value from end-of-life tires.
Q1. Your topic will be “Innovations and value from end-of-life tires” this year, can you give us a snapshot of what delegates will hear? And why is it important for others in the industry to hear this message?
End-of-life tires are a significant waste stream in Australia. They have been identified as one of the top 4 priority waste streams in the federal waste action policy. However, the same challenges with end-of-life tires are universally present in every continent across the world. The transport infrastructure industry has contributed significant research in utilising the excellent physical properties of tires for use in building more resilient, sustainable and better performing roads, there is a limit on how much can be utilised.
Further research and innovative processes are necessary to extract the valuable components of tires and find a new life for them, to ensure we are innovating a circular economy. I hope to share learnings and feedback from the Australian experience that has alternative methods that can process any end-of-life tires into 5 different products. Rather than relying solely on the crumbing of end-of-life tires, there are alternative methods to extract further value.
Q2. In the sustainable context, what do you think are the key challenges facing the industry?
The key challenges I have observed would be the volume of tires, and the lack of large-scale commercial methods to utilise them. This imbalance results in significant stockpiling. However, these challenges are also opportunities and as new materials and technologies are innovated from end-of-life tires they can be tested, validated and trialled. This inevitably would lead to a increase in their use.
Q3. What industry topics are getting the most attention currently? How are these factors influencing the future of the tire value chain?
There is a universal push towards sustainability in the transport infrastructure industry and there is significant interest in waste plastics, end-of-life tires, and emissions related to transportation. Interestingly, the most funding and research with end-of-life tires has related to crumbing of rubber. In the Australian context, there are specifications for the use of crumb rubber in the road network. However, based on the demand and volume utilisation of crumb rubber, it’s unlikely this would address the end-of-life tire stockpiles.
Tires are high performing manufactured products with many valuable polymers, additives and components. By using the end-of-life tires as crumb rubber, their worth is relatively low and much of the high value components found in tires are not efficiently utilised. By introducing new technologies that extract out and separate more components, such as the technology I’ll showcase in my presentation, the industry is able to obtain more value and material efficiencies from end-of-life tires.
Q4. Why do you feel it's important for people to attend the conference this year?
Tires are an essential element to every nation and private citizen in their daily lives. Whether its driving, flying or relying on the delivery of goods and services, tires are an integral part of the connected world. However, once tires reach their end-of-life stage, they become a significant challenge to manage correctly. This conference highlights ways that end-of-life tires are used in the transport infrastructure industry and can provide significant opportunities for collaboration and innovation.