Circlular Economy

What is the Circular Economy

The circular economy is a model of sustainable development, centered on reuse and new markets, which contributes to the adequate management of our planet’s natural resources (production-consumption-recycling). By applying this economic model, the processed components can reenter the cycle. What was previously regarded as “waste” can now be converted into raw material, reducing the waste of resources used in the production process.

The case of end-of-life tires

End-of-life tires have been managed through Ecoelastika since 2004, according to the extended producer responsibility model. Currently, the company collects and recovers more than 90% of “Put on the market” tires, i.e. the quantities of tires entering the Greek market either on vehicles or as spare parts to replace older worn tires. End-of-life tires are forwarded whole or pre-shredded into recovery units. In Greece there are 4 plants for full mechanical tire processing capable of producing other vulcanized rubber-based products, as well as 2 alternative fuel production units. Some of the tires are forwarded to cement production plants as an alternative fuel for co-incineration. The recycling rate of end-of-life tires in Greece in 2020 reached 65%, which is one of the highest in Europe.

Of course, speaking of circular economy, the fact is that the final product of the mechanical treatment of tires (after the removal of metals and linens), which is the rubber granulate, is not a raw material adequate for new tire production, since this is not yet technically and economically feasible. Rubber granulates currently used in various granule sizes in sports venues such as football fields with synthetic grass fibers, playgrounds, and schools in the form of safety tiles, in the production of soundproofing, thermal insulation and cushioning materials for construction, as well as in various everyday products where its elastic and insulating properties are exploited (e.g., shoe soles, thermoplastic elastomers, etc.).

The fact that end-of-life tyre recycling products do not “close” the production cycle of new tires does not reduce the positive environmental impact of their alternative management, because:

  • New products produced by rubber granulate, such as safety tiles, can be recycled to a significant proportion, and new safety tiles of similar quality produced. Likewise, the artificial lawn started to be recycled to recover the basic materials from which they were manufactured, such as plastic, rubber granulate and quartz sand.
  • If burned for energy production, end-of-life tires would release into the atmosphere large amounts of carbon dioxide, which is one of the main greenhouse gases, and contribute to climate change.
  • The illegal landfilling of end-of-life tires, or their uncontrolled disposal, would have multiple negative effects on the environment due to fire hazard and also because of their very durable structure which makes them essentially non-biodegradable.

Examples of applications that
contribute to the Circular Economy