On this page we answer questions about the recycling products from ELT. Maybe also one of yours soon?
ELT stands for "end-of-life tyres", i.e. tyres that can no longer be used for their original purpose. High-quality recycled products are generally made from discarded car tyres and, to a certain extent, truck tyres. This ensures that high-quality rubber granules and rubber powder are obtained, which are used as the basis for top quality recycled products.
Scientific studies have shown that there is no health risk when playing on floors made of ELT recycled material. The ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) states in its 2017 study that there is at best a very low risk of "discouraging people from playing sports on artificial turf containing recycled rubber granulate as infill material". In addition, the granules are cleaned intensively so that they are dust-free and so the inhalation of dust can be ruled out.
Every test method permits very small quantities of PAHs to escape into the soil. A study by the Fraunhofer Institute shows that the migration of PAHs into the human body is well below the limits defined as critical.
The Danish Technological Institute (DTI) estimates the annual discharge of harmful substances into groundwater at 2.5 to 36 kg per field. If the pitches are optimally designed, maintained and treated, these already limited quantities can be almost completely eliminated.
Recently, artificial turf pitches have come under criticism because the infill granulate is microplastic. Indeed, the granules are smaller than 5 mm and are therefore by definition microplastic - but they are not virgin material, they are recycled material - their use as infill granules is clearly preferable to incineration. In addition, microplastics in artificial turf do not harm people or the environment, as they remain in the soil and are not transported into the body and the oceans.
There are repeated concerns that PAHs (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) or dissolved organic carbon compounds are leaking into groundwater. These concerns are scientifically unfounded, as the substances remain in the product and thus pose no risk to humans or the environment (see summary of the study by the Fraunhofer Institute (PDF)). Zinc, on the other hand, can be leached out in very small quantities; different test methods yield different values. In this respect, experts from the Federal Institute for Sports Science are of the opinion that synthetic surfaces can be approved in individual cases without quality monitoring.
Recycled products made of ELT may contain substances that are hazardous to health - however, these are bound in the product and do not become bioavailable, i.e. they do not or only under certain conditions, namely the influence of solvents, escape from the rubber granulates in small quantities.
Moreover, it is the case that measurements carried out by renowned institutes prove that even under very strict test conditions the PAHs do not become bioavailable and thus do not pose a danger to the people who come into contact with them. Cf. summary of the study by the Fraunhofer Institute
In everyday situations such as barbecuing with friends or driving for half an hour in a traffic jam, each of us ingests many times more PAHs than would ever be possible via flooring, precisely because without the use of solvents it is well nigh impossible for pollutants to escape.
The answer is a clear "yes". Surfaces and artificial turf made from recycled material are many times cheaper than products made from primary raw materials. The cost of products made from primary raw materials can be up to 10 times higher than for recycled products.
You can't tell by looking at the tyres, but each tyre consists of around 200 different ingredients. Exactly what these are depends on the type of tyre, there are so many: car tyres, truck tyres, tractor tyres, forklift tyres, aircraft tyres. The requirements for all these tyres are different and the composition is also different. There is usually natural rubber, synthetic rubber, but also carbon black and silica in the rubber compound. In addition, there are textile layers and steel.
For the processing of used tyres as a secondary raw material, this means that not all tyres are the same. The separation into the individual components is complex. In addition, a consistent, high quality must be guaranteed during the production of the secondary raw material despite the different composition of the tyres.
Tyres are optically black and round - if you take a look at the research and development departments of the manufacturers, however, you will immediately notice that tyres are a high-tech product. The intended use of a tyre is on a vehicle or means of transport. Performance characteristics and ingredients are matched to this.
There is a conflict of objectives in the production of tyres. First and foremost, tyres should be safe, i.e. have a good grip and come to a rapid stop under braking - both in dry and wet conditions. On the other hand, there is the requirement to keep rolling resistance as low as possible in order to improve environmental properties. In addition, a tyre should have the quietest possible rolling noise. These are only the criteria required by the EU-wide tyre label.
In addition, the limits on pollutants in tyres for tyre manufacturers, as laid down in EU legislation, must be observed. The restrictions on plasticisers, for example, have also led to a significant increase in the quality of the granulate obtained from used tyres.
By processing tyres of different origins in the recycling plants of the NEW LIFE partners, a product mix is created that ensures a consistently high quality for recycled products.
Natural rubber is obtained by laborious manual labour from rubber trees up to 20 m high. The trees are cultivated in plantations in Southeast Asia.
In order to obtain rubber, the bark of the rubber trees is cut by plantation workers in an curved shape. Milk sap (latex) flows out of these openings and is collected in buckets. This latex dries in the air and hardens to rubber. This raw material is used to make products ranging from tyres, balloons and babies' dummies to condoms.