Although recycled tyres are widely used by commercial vehicles, sales to the passenger car sector have been badly affected by the emergence of budget brands of new tyres which retail at competitive prices. Volumes of retreads have fallen from 7.5 million in 1995 to less than 1.5 million.
According to David Wilson, director of the Retread Manufacturers’ Association, there is still a poor public perception of the quality and safety of retread tyres. He has been lobbying the Government to act as a figurehead and prove its green credentials by adopting the use of recycled tyres on public sector vehicles.
“The Italian government has a mandate that 20% of its fleet has to be on retreaded tyres. We’d like to see our Government also have a mandatory percentage of tyres that are retreaded,” he says.
Many tyre fitting workshops no longer stock retreads, so the RMA launched its Green Dealer Scheme last year in order to promote those that still do. The scheme has a membership of more than 200 independent tyre fitters, who are promoted on the RMA’s website and receive point of sale promotional material.
Members are encouraged to target environmentally aware companies and individuals in their respective areas to explain the benefits of recycled tyres. Retreading a car tyre uses 4½ gallons less oil than producing a new tyre, according to the RMA, and it reduces tyre disposal costs.
“Many consumers are not aware that retreads are green products, so workshops have to spend a little more time explaining about them, and emphasizing that all retreads must conform to European regulation ECE108 and British Standard BS AU 144e on safety,” says Wilson.
The Government Car Dispatch Agency, which operates more than 200 vehicles including ministerial limousines and seven hybrid-powered Toyota Priuses, does not use recycled tyres at present. However, it “periodically reviews” that policy.