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The second life of the tires, which become asphalt, floors, soundproofing for houses or covering of road signs. To tell it is Ecopneus, the non-profit company for the tracing, collection, treatment and final destination of End of Life Tires (ELTs) who signed an important agreement with the Ministry. We talk about it with Giovanni Corbetta, general manager of Ecopneus.
1) In the field of tire recycling, what does the agreement signed with the Ministry lead to?
The agreement signed with the Ministry of the Environment provides for the definition of a specific system for measuring, reducing and neutralizing the carbon footprint, the so-called "Carbon Footprint", for products made with rubber deriving from the recycling and recovery of End of Life Tires (ELTs). In practice, the different phases of the life cycle of some products will be analyzed and possible measures to be implemented to reduce, up to neutralize them, greenhouse gas emissions in their life cycle.
2) How many realities will be involved and what kind of reality is it?
The voluntary agreement, lasting twelve months, has as its primary objective to establish a method for calculating the carbon footprint applicable to the entire sector relating to the production of products with ELT recycled rubber. Ecopneus, being a non-profit management company, is becoming the spokesperson for all the companies in the supply chain that personally manufacture products and products with ELT rubber.
3) What benefits can the development of tire recycling provide to the country?
The use of secondary raw materials recovered from the treatment of ELT in products destined for different industrial sectors it could be the driving force for the development of a market "green"In Italy that makes the best use of materials from recovery and recycling processes for the benefit of the environment, of the economy and of the whole community. We have always been engaged in numerous research and experimentation activities for the maximum exploitation of ELTs and to create the conditions suitable for the development in Italy of a modern industrial sector for the recycling of these materials.
4) What can the material obtained from ELT processing become?
There tire rubber at the end of their life, once they have been reduced to granules and powders even smaller than a millimeter, they can be used in many advantageous applications. For example, it can be added to asphalts to create quieter roads that last longer, or to make anti-trauma floors for children's playgrounds, or as an infill for artificial turf soccer fields. It can become a soundproofing material for our homes or cover road signs. There are many sectors in which to use this material, from construction to engineering, street furniture and sports.
5) What are the most easily obtainable products from tire recycling? The least expensive? The most innovative?
A parameter to evaluate the degree of innovation of an application could be to see how much it manages to enhance the intrinsic properties of rubber. There rubber of which a tire it is a highly technical material with exceptional performance; it must in fact guarantee the tightness of our cars, motorcycles and trucks, even at high speeds for its entire useful life. In some cases, these particular chemical-physical characteristics make it possible to obtain a product or a product that is significantly improved thanks to the addition of this particular rubber, which also costs less than virgin rubber.
6) Is there anything else being studied in Italy or abroad for tire recycling?
The main research fields, in Italy as well as abroad, mainly concern technologies for treatment and recovery. Currently the most widespread technology to work the ELT up to obtain granule and powder (also because it is a process that takes place at room temperature) is the mechanical shredding but, alongside this, technologies are being studied that can break up the End of life tires thanks to very high pressure water jets and technologies that, through thermal, chemical or ultrasonic processes, devulcanize the rubber obtaining chemical components that can be reintegrated into the production cycle.
7) What are the laws in Italy that regulate the material you deal with?
The Ministerial Decree n. 82/2011, implementing art. 228 of Legislative Decree 152/2006, defines the operational and management methods of the new management system for End of Life Tires, of which Ecopneus is only one of the managers. The whole system started in September 2011, so it is relatively "young", but Ecopneus has been active in institutional settings well before, and still is, to offer its experience and know-how to contribute, as far as it is possible to define the regulatory, operational and management details necessary for the best possible functioning of the entire system.