A South African tyre recycler has unlocked value for the global steel industry by selling the wire from inside used truck tyres. The Mathe Group is servicing Australian and Korean steel markets with its wire by-products. Originally, the Mathe Group was only selling recycled rubber crumb for use as a flooring material, insulator and road surface material.
The recycling facility is located in Hammarsdale (between Pietermaritzburg and Pinetown). The Mathe Group says that 27% of each truck tyre is made from high-tensile steel – this means that each 68kg truck tyre contains approximately 18kg of steel wire.
Turning steel into money for tyre recyclers
Tyre recyclers often remove these steel wires using powerful magnets during the shredding process. This mangled steel is then loaded into shipping containers and sent to the nearest port or waste management facility.
Recent developments in technology have allowed tyre recyclers to invest in debeading machines that remove the steel before the shredding process. This preserves the shape and integrity of the steel as it does not pass through a shredder. It allows tyre recyclers to access a sellable by-product that retains its value in other markets.
These steel wires are compacted, baled and packaged for shipping overseas. Compacting the steel allows for larger quantities to be loaded into shipping containers. Each container can hold up to 20 tonnes of steel from recycled tyres.
Demand for recycled steel is growing
According to the Mathe Group, the demand for steel wire from tyres is increasing. International car manufacturers and ship builders are always looking for high-tensile steel and the fact that this by-product is recycled makes it more cost-effective for international markets. The other benefit of this recovered steel is that it is clean and in shape.
“Clean steel which has the least amount of rubber is far easier to process. We have less than four percent rubber contamination in our product, making it far easier to process than steel sourced from elsewhere in the world,” says Dr Mehran Zarrebini, head of PFE International which is a major shareholder in the Mathe Group.
By continuously investing in new technologies such as these, the facility will be able to increase steel output and its efficiency. The tyre recycling facility is expanding steadily which allows it to meet the demands for the steel by-products.
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