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ICAMCyL participates in a new European project for the recovery of tyres that will promote the circular economy across the European Union

News / 04-05-2020

The BlackCycle project, led and coordinated by French tyre manufacturer Michelin, will make a crucial contribution to the circular economy and sustainability of these high environmental impact materials. ICAMCyL will play a key role as an expert in the recovery and valorisation of raw materials.

ICAMCyL Foundation has achieved a new European project within the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. The BlackCycle project, in line with the EU objectives for a more sustainable and circular economy, is also linked to the 2030 Agenda and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The project will be focused on the development of new technologies for the recovery of the raw materials that conform the tyres of all types of vehicles, thus allowing their reutilisation in high added technical applications.

Currently, more than 25 million tons of tyres are produced annually worldwide, being only a small part of them recovered in the form of lower-performance materials mainly for the construction sector, roads and noise barrier applications. These lower-level applications do not account for the large number of tyres that each year end their life cycle. In the EU alone, more than 3.3 million tonnes of tyres are thrown away every year.

The BlackCycle project aims to provide a sustainable solution to this issue by developing new techniques for the recovery and valorisation of these materials. Our goal is in line with the objective of the European Commission to evolve from the current linear model of producing-using-disposing to a new circular paradigm that allows, at the end of the life of materials, reintroduce them into the value chain with the same or even better technical performance. This project also comes at a crucial moment for sustainable mobility, as a huge number of new electric solutions are being developed that we will revolutionise the global market in the coming years.

Impact at European level

Nowadays, a big part of tyres at their end of life are incinerated, releasing huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. In addition, many of their components come from non-renewable sources, which implies that by discarding them we are consuming irrecoverable natural resources.

In this context, the BlackCycle project will have a huge impact on the recycling of tyres at their end of life in Europe, since it aims at recovering up to 50% of the European stock of tyres (1.7 million tons) for their reutilisation in high-performance technical applications. To achieve this ambitious goal, the leadership of French tyre manufacturer Michelin will be key, as it owns 13.8% of the world tyre market, more than 120,000 employees worldwide and production facilities in 26 countries. Among these production facilities four are in Spain (Lasarte, Vitoria, Aranda de Duero and Valladolid factories).

In the medium term, the results of this project will have an impact on the reshoring of end-of-life management of tyres to the European Union. This activity has been transferred in recent years to Asian countries, but its return to Europe would mean new jobs and economic growth to our local territories. In addition, BlackCycle will contribute significantly to a more competitive and sustainable European industry, promoting efficient and profitable solutions with a remarkable reduction in carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.

ICAMCyL's role as a European expert center for the recovery of raw materials

The BlackCycle project brings together 13 top-tier entities from 5 European countries (France, Germany, Switzerland, Greece and Spain). ICAMCyL Foundation will participate as an expert European center in the recovery and valorisation of raw materials, consolidating its activity in the field of circular economy and sustainability. Among ICAMCyL’s tasks in the project, our main contribution will be data management and its integration in the European Commission’s Raw Materials Information System (RMIS).

The RMIS system was created by the Joint Research Center (JRC) and the EC's DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW) as a shared platform for knowledge on raw materials. The impact of integrating the collected data in this platform goes far beyond the project itself, as it implies our contribution to a broader project of harmonization, optimization and subsequent reutilisation of this data as part of the Commission's Raw Materials Initiative.

ICAMCyL will also participate in the exploitation of the project results and in future specialized training plans for undergraduates and professionals in the sector. In addition, with our participation in BlackCycle, we will contribute to the development of new circular value chains, allowing a remarkable reduction in the amount of raw materials that are taken away from natural resources. ICAMCyL has wide experience in this field, mainly through our participation in other key European projects such as COST Action MINEA and H2020 TARANTULA.

ICAMCyL’s general director, Santiago Cuesta López, has pointed out the strategic importance of the project for the EU industry as a whole: 'BlackCycle entails a radical innovation in the global tyre market, something very positive for the competitiveness of this sector in the European Union'. He also highlighted the relevance of ICAMCyL's role within the project: 'We will contribute with our vast experience in the field of recovery and valorisation of raw materials, consolidating us at the forefront of sustainability and circular economy in the Union European, a matter of the highest interest for the European Commission'.

This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under Grant Agreement No. 869625.


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