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13 April, 2024
 
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Over 1,000 tons of discarded tires pile up across Cyprus

Limassol's tire waste highlights the prevailing situation

Newsroom

Today, more than 1,000 tons of tires lie scattered in open spaces throughout Cyprus, posing a significant problem for the environment and public health. Neighborhoods, fields, riverbanks, and other natural areas occasionally become filled with old tires, a consequence of poor tire waste management. The recent discovery of a pile of tire waste buried in a plot of land in Limassol highlights the prevailing situation, underscoring the magnitude of the problem. Discarded tires stand as one of Cyprus's most serious waste management challenges.

Troublesome tire management

Despite existing legislation for tire management, many exploit loopholes and weaknesses in the law to avoid paying the necessary fees for tire collection and disposal. This includes bypassing payments to the Vasiliko cement factory, known for accepting old tires, by simply dumping them in various locations.

Each year, Cyprus imports 500,000 to 600,000 tires into its market. According to regulations, importers must pay a recycling fee for each tire brought in, a prerequisite for customs clearance and tire acceptance. After collection, importers transport the tires to service stations or tire sales outlets, providing certificates confirming the recycling fee payment. However, the majority of old tires in Cyprus are not recycled but burned for energy at the cement factory, exacerbating pollution concerns.

Those unwilling to bear the cost of proper tire disposal opt to illegally discard tires in nature, polluting the environment and risking fire hazards.

Breeding grounds for mosquitoes, fire risks

The issue of managing used tires has long concerned the public sphere, with interventions from Parliament and the Auditor General, yet a solution remains elusive. While tires are not inherently hazardous waste, their sheer volume and complex composition make unregulated dumping a serious threat to the environment and public health, especially near residential areas. As discussed in Parliament in 2022, cities host approximately 40,000 discarded tires, a number increasing daily.

Primarily, tire piles serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes as they trap water inside. However, the most significant danger is the risk of fire, challenging to combat and releasing toxic substances into the atmosphere, causing eye and skin irritation and respiratory problems. Moreover, Cyprus's high temperatures favor the production of hazardous chemicals, worsening soil and groundwater pollution.

Sustainable management

As Cyprus grapples with the consequences of haphazard tire disposal, Europe explores sustainable solutions. Leading tire manufacturer Michelin, in coordination with EU funding, spearheads the BlackCycle program to recycle materials from old tires, aiming to reuse them in manufacturing new tires.

Through techniques like pyrolysis, which heat tires without burning them, materials like metals or carbon black are recovered for tire production. Recycling carbon black is particularly crucial, as producing it from scratch requires significant petroleum and emits carbon dioxide. Additionally, tire recycling generates gas and oil, used for clean energy production without relying on fossil fuels.

The adoption of tire recycling, through pyrolysis, is now widespread in several EU countries (Germany, Poland, Greece, Austria) and beyond (UK, USA, China, Japan, South Korea). Besides the direct benefits of circular management and material reuse, its implementation in Cyprus could effectively increase clean energy production sustainably, without the time constraints of popular renewables like solar or wind power.

For Cyprus, embracing sustainable tire management offers a promising pathway towards environmental preservation and energy sustainability.

TAGS
Cyprus  |  tires  |  health  |  energy  |  EU

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