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Red Sea warning – time to stop export of UK carbon footprint

TRA calls on UK government to do the right thing, support British operators and end polluting export of end-of-life tyres.

 

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Britain must face up to the reality of its actions if it is to live up to His Majesty’s Government rhetoric, says the Tyre Recovery Association. The disruption caused by Houthi attacks on international shipping have lifted the veil many have been choosing to ignore, the UK is not building a circular economy but double dipping with unnecessary carbon leakage.

Latest figures reveal 250-300,000 tonnes of end-of-life tyres are exported from the UK per annum, yet the UK has at least 150,000 tonnes of idle domestic recycling capacity.

Exported tyres are transported to market on carbon producing ocean tankers. According to the German statistics company, Statista, who looked at product tankers operating in the United Kingdom, ships end-of-life tyre exports are carried on produced the equivalent of 9.02 grams of CO2 per metric tonne of goods shipped per kilometre in 2023. With shipping now diverting via the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the Red Sea, the journey lengths are estimated to have almost doubled, increasing carbon emissions by one third.

Government figures on rubber export released earlier this month show that having completed an unnecessary carbon producing journey, 75% of these ELT waste tyre exports end up being sold into the Indian sub-content. Much of these Indian tonnages are dealt with in a manner that is highly polluting, with the Indian authorities fighting an uphill battle to end the illegal and unethical distribution of ELT waste tyres for use on vehicles and the highly npolluting practice of back street pyrolysis. The life of an average worker in one of these micro and illegal pyrolysis plants is estimated at seven years, demonstrating quite how noxious the by-products from burning are to both humans and the environment.

Peter Taylor OBE, Secretary General of the TRA, said:

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Peter Taylor

“It beggars belief that the government continue to enable CO2 producing exports while UK capacity lies idle. The UK tyre industry welcomes the opportunities that come from the circular economy advocated for by ministers, yet those same ministers appear incapable of pushing through the rule changes that make it work. Without much needed updating of UK regulations our nation will continue to double dip in unnecessary carbon production, first from the carbon created by ships loaded with ELTs for export, and then those ELTs are unloaded into a market that is sadly rife with abuse.

The TRA want to see responsible recycling at the heart of our industry, but the regulatory framework needed lags way behind.

It is time our government does the right thing and stop the UK’s carbon leakage.”

About the TRA

A cornerstone of the body is its support for the Responsible Recycler Scheme. All TRA members are fully accredited by the scheme, which ensures that all tyres collected, recycled or reprocessed by them are disposed of or reused in an environmentally friendly or acceptable methods. However, markets for tyre recovery continue to grow and develop and as the EU Landfill Directive is applied right across Europe a new international dimension will evolve. The Tyre Recovery Association has the independent ability to pursue its broader objectives at both industry and government levels, generate performance data specific to its member’s interests as well as develop stronger links across the tyre recycling world.

See more at: www.tyrerecovery.org.uk

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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.

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The power of the network model means e2e has the ability to influence industry standards and is committed to continually raising the bar whilst redefining the role and perceived value of the salvage operator.  Network members adhere to robust service level agreements, against which they are audited, in order to ensure performance consistency and a market leading customer experience.  

The salvage and recycling operating environment is evolving rapidly, and e2e is anticipating, listening and responding to changing market needs.  Regulatory compliance, ESG, reclaimed parts, customer experience, EVs, new vehicle technologies, data and reputation risk are just some of many considerations linked to the procurement of salvage services.  e2e will drive further added value to clients and members through the adoption and application of emerging technologies, continuing to differentiate its proposition and position salvage services as a professional partnership. 

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