The separate collection of discarded tyres makes ecological sense as some used tyres can be retreaded and hence re-used instead of new tyres. If re-use is not possible, the worn tyres can be used to recover materials or energy. Environmentally-friendly disposal is ensured through the return of new tyres to collection points (e.g. garages or tyre specialists).
In accordance with the Ordinance on Movements of Waste (OMW), used tyres from vehicles that require a vehicle registration document belong to the category "other controlled waste". The monitoring of domestic disposal operations and of transboundary movements of waste ensures that tyres are disposed of in an environmentally sound way.
Tyres consist of synthetic or natural rubber with carbon black and silicon oxide, steel and textile. They also contain additives like zinc, lead and sulphur. Due to these additives, in particular, the incorrect storage or disposal of used tyres poses a considerable environmental hazard. Surface waters, groundwater and soil are at particular risk of contamination, particularly in the event of fire. For this reason, waste disposal operations that deal with tyres must pay particular attention to fire safety.
Old tyres can be returned to garages, specialist tyre dealers and used tyre dealers. In accordance with the OMW, the latter may only forward them to authorised disposal operations. Several websites provide information about locations where used tyres can be disposed of.
Large quantities of used tyres from bicycles and small vehicles can be recycled in cement factories via a tyre disposal operation. Small quantities may also be disposed of with household waste.
Licensed disposal operations in accordance with OMW:
From an environmental perspective, re-use is the best option. Used tyres that are free of qualitative defects can be given a new rubber tread. This process, which is known as retreading, gives the tyres a second life and hence reduces the use of new tyres and protects the environment.
If the tyres are not suitable for retreading, they should undergo material recovery insofar as possible. Using mechanical processes, used tyres can be separated into their steel and rubber components which can then be used as raw materials.
Finally, the option of energy recovery also exists. Incineration in a cement plant enables the saving of fossil fuels.
Waste disposal operations in Switzerland must be licensed by the responsible cantonal authority.
Exports and imports of used tyres are subject to authorisation by the FOEN. Exports to countries that are not members of the OECD or EU is generally prohibited. Only used tyres with sufficient profile depth which are suitable for re-use are classified as goods and may be exported without the authorisation of the FOEN. The FOEN has developed a control system with the RVS (Tyre Association of Switzerland) which ensures that exporters comply with the regulations by means of inspections and sampling.
Financing is based on the polluter-pays principle. A recaptured disposal fee is levied on used tyres by some elements of the motor trade and the tyre trade.
Last modification 21.06.2019