Exhausted Tyres: from waste to resource         (clic to open)

From wasted tyres to resource

Components with a strong environmental impact, consumption is difficult to dispose with shredding. PFU Innovation srl has developed a treatment system that uses high pressure and returns, ready for recycling, all the starting materials: rubber, metals and textiles

There is a component that has a very strong environmental impact but it is often not considered when you are polluting. This component can be recycled but its weight is very high throughout its life cycle because, even when it is replaced because it is too worn, it is destined to remain in its original state, assuming an official name that finally reveals the mystery of the protagonist of this story: "PFU", (in Italian is: tire out of order, in English is ELT end life of the tires) . According to reliable estimates, every year I am accumulating in Italy between 400 and 500 thousand tons of tires not able to effectively keep the road.

Really in this story, the tire is part of the villain. A villain who manages to redeem himself and live a new life. The real protagonist is Mr. Marco Marca, the inventor who has discovered the way to make this redemption possible. His company, PFU Innovation srl, realizes a technology that allows the recycling industry to break up in all its basic elements, without affecting in any way its fine structure. The original rubber is transformed into a powder that - explains Eng. Marca - «purifies completely the rubber from the dangerous metal particles left by the normal shredding, so as to become a" second raw material "that can be reused to make new tires and even the shockproof flooring that we see in the children's playgrounds ". Recently - adds Marca - his company has obtained in a safe way thanks to a series of analyzes suggested by Ecopneus, a structure accredited by the main tire manufacturers as the main collection body for "out of use" car tires. In the case of Ecopneus, the shredded tires become an object for the construction of draining asphalt.


At the base of its innovative process, tells Mr. Marca, there is a whole career spent in companies specializing in the construction of systems for the manufacture of tires. "Always - observes Mr. Marca - are looking for a viable alternative to the methods used today for the disposal of tires. Often many used tires are processed badly, even burned, generating further pollution. It needed an idea that would give a different life to this type of waste ». The research has occupied Marca and his collaborators for five years. The spirit is precisely to remove from the environment a material that is almost impossible to dispose of or degrade completely. Instead, we recover everything, including metal and textile parts ».

In a conventional product, we find substances such as rubber, carbon black, kaolin, accelerators like oil, steel that helps to fix the tire around the rims, textile rope. According to Mr. Marca, from 100 kilos of tires to be disposed of, it is possible to obtain 85 kilos of rubber, 10 of steel and 5 of textile material. These materials are disintegrated during a process that has nothing chemical. At the end of the process, a powder of the consistency of talc is obtained, which can be reused in a thousand ways. One of the possible uses is as an additive used to increase the tightness of the asphalt. "But we could recycle the powder to make new tires, at reduced costs and without rape the trees from which the rubber resin is extracted. Or as a coating and construction material, for soundabsorbing panels, shoe soles and various containers. We could even get oil. Our systems also allow to calibrate the granularity of the materials obtained ». The system intelligently exploits the same "physiology" of the tires, which are manufactured by overlapping a set of semi-finished bands, steel rings with a high carbon content and metal meshes.


Mr. Marco Marca is convinced that its exclusive technology - part of the preparatory work has seen PFU Innovation srl engaged in a competitive benchmarking that has confirmed the uniqueness of this approach - has a strong market potential. "In the world, over 2 billion tires are built every year. Doing some approximate account would serve almost four thousand disruption plants, which currently have a capacity of extraction from eight thousand tons, to dispose of all those who are thrown away. Meanwhile, Mr. Marca studies how to increase the capacity not so much in terms of overall volumes of recycled material to be obtained, but from the point of view of the tire sizes that can be treated. There is, for example, a strong interest in systems able to reprocess the gigantic tires of certain industrial vehicles that are not compatible with the system developed by PFU Innovation srl, and can not even undergo a shredding process.

"By now we can handle normal tires up to 19 inches. On the other hand, we are much more compact in terms of processing: one of our plants occupies one third of the space occupied by shredders". Like many innovative disposal technologies, there will be inevitable barriers to overcome, including cultural ones. But the availability of the new technology could also have consequences in terms of legislation, creating the conditions for an even more rigorous management of these special waste. "Today - Mr. Marca observes - an ecotax of 2.8 euros is applied to each replaced tire, which in theory must be part of the supply chain to facilitate disposal. Knowing that our alternative also exists, we could make even stricter laws. " After all, the success of PFU Innovation srl could come from its strong environmental responsibility in a world that is increasingly attentive to the sustainability of its production economy.

The technology that will save the world from worn-out tires         (clic to open)

The technology that will save the world from worn-out tires

It is called PFU Innovation the Italian startup that has made EPR10, the only truly eco-compatible plant that does not produce emissions.

The recycling of the so-called ELTs is among the most complex in the world. The acronym stands for End (of) Lifetyme Tyre, ie those considered as full waste, destined only for recovery or disposal activities.

If not subjected to specific treatments, ELTs can cause real, medium and long-term damage to people. Suffice it to say that one of the most popular methods of disposal, landfilling, requires at least 100 years for a tire to deteriorate completely, not without leaving a trace in the surrounding environment.

The numbers of a problem

In Europe, landfilling has been the main destination for ELTs for years and is still in many countries, including Italy. Something has changed, in terms of legislation, when the legislator has thought well to give the responsibility of creating tires out of use to those who actually replace them, the tire, who must decide whether a wheel is to be disposed or is only used , ie able to be rebuilt and destined for new use. But the doubt remains: between costs and transport, we are sure that the ELT really does a proper route to landfill? And once here, how is it treated?

The traditional process

We would say badly. Yes, because the technique in force up to now involves crushing the tires through mills, a process that still needs to go through further cleaning of metal residues. This involves waste of time, non-negligible management costs and a poor final product, that is, a proceed that can not be used for many other uses.

The idea of PFU

And here comes the idea of PFU Innovation S.r.l. . This is an Italian startup, based in Cinisello Balsamo, which has built EPR10, a plant dedicated to the advanced recovery of out-of-use tires. What changes from those on the national territory? The solution that Mr. Marco Marca, founder of the company,, explained to us, is unique in Italy, in Europe and, as far as we know, in the world.

Here is the reason: "EPR10 takes up less space than classic settlements, has an energy consumption of 50% less and, above all, makes a complete separation of the elements that make up the tire, through the use of a high-water system pressure, which allows to obtain completely clean harmonic steel and 99.99% pure rubber ".

Treatment difference

While with normal shredding both metal parts and textile rope may remain in the rubber, thus requiring an additional refining operation, with the EPR10 process this does not happen. The process that activates the hi-tech system does not affect the metal but still separates the elements to return a pure rubber.

In this way, the result is a kind of extremely pure reusable powder without further treatment, suitable for making any type of rubber article, from gaskets to heat and sound insulation sheets, from sound-absorbing tiles to synthetic grass and draining asphalt . This not only reduces environmental impact immediately but also opens up an attractive supply market recovered for various purposes.

We have to grow up

Is it worth it? "Absolutely - concludes Mr. Marca - also because in Italy today we recover about 23% of the ELTs on a European average of 51%. Even the return of energy, currently at 49% can be improved, through an infrastructure that pays off with some cycles, , against an ecological safeguard that is priceless". PFU Innovation

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