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Don't Let Tyres End Up in Dust: Exploring a Circular Future for Rubber



Tyres undergo abrasion as they hit the pavement, shedding minuscule tyre wear particles (TWPs) – a hidden form of microplastic pollution. 6 million tonnes of TWPs per year enter our waterways, pollute our soil, and even infiltrate our food chain.

Over 30 million tonnes of tyres annually reach their lifespan, leading to another challenge: the disposal of end-of-life tyres (ELTs) unfolding through a complex web of waste streams, each with its environmental implications.

Many discarded tyres find their way into landfills, leaching toxic chemicals and taking centuries to decompose, or are incinerated for energy recovery, generating harmful air pollutants and a significant carbon footprint. They all represent a massive lost resource opportunity and do not offer a long-term solution.

Material recovery is environmentally preferable and superior to energy recovery or landfilling, as it recycles rubber and reduces the demand for virgin raw materials. It involves processing ELTs into various forms of rubber that can be used as raw materials for new products.

Mechanical granulation of tyres into crumb rubber has the largest share in material recovery in applications like sports surfaces but falls short of capturing the effective use of rubber.

Rubber reclamation and devulcanization try to reverse the molecular structure of rubber to its virgin state while pyrolysis decomposes rubber completely into chemical products.

Micronised rubber powders (MRPs), made by grinding and refining ELTs into particles smaller than 180 µm, can be utilised in more advanced applications. Despite their compatibility issues and lack of reinforcing effect, they are already adopted by leading tyre manufacturers.

As ARP, we take forward MRPs by altering their surface chemistry with our revolutionary functionalisation. Now called Functionalised MRP (FMRP), they integrate seamlessly into high-performance rubbers and elastomers.

FMRPs are one of the most effective and practical ways to achieve a circular economy of tyres compared to limitations and trade-offs of other technologies. FMRPs return the largest economic benefits of rubbers by preserving the highest material value.

The final products with FMRP are so powerful, that tyre circularity becomes a closed loop that can be used again and again.

Unfortunately, merely 0.03% of the ELT mass is converted to FMRPs. This is why we invented Actifine®, the only commercialised FMRP in the world. This is our mission in ARP, getting rid of all tyre waste.

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