Eco Tire’s plant - Eliahu Ben Igal / Jini
Eco Tire’s plant in Ashkelon. No market for their products. Photo by Eliahu Ben Igal / Jini

The country's two tire recycling plants, which take in more than 2 million tires a year, are at risk of shutting. Both face difficulties competing with importers of recycled tires and finding a market for their own products.

"There isn't sufficient demand for our product today, because the necessary steps were not taken to encourage its use - such as turning tires into filler material for walls or other building," said Amal Asad, who runs Tyrec, the larger of the two companies.

Asad said Tyrec has a large number of used tires, but is having trouble selling the recycled rubber.

"We are facing competition from importers from European countries like Greece, which are exporting crushed tires at a low price because of the financial crisis there," he said. "Another factor is the trash burial facilities, which take tires at a lower cost."

The Environmental Protection Ministry said imported rubber does not come from tires, but added that it will investigate whether, as Asad claims, other countries are indeed importing rubber derived from recycled tires.

Asad called on the government to assist companies like his - and to find ways to increase the use of recycled rubber, which the Environmental Protection Ministry says it is looking into.

Tyrec, which is near Wadi Ara, and E&J Tire Recycling (also called Eco Tire ) in Ashkelon crush tires and use the rubber mulch to create products such as playground surfaces and fillers for construction materials.

If the plants were to close, it would be a setback for the ministry, which sees the 2007 law requiring tires to be recycled as one of its most important achievements in its effort to remove trash from public spaces. The law requires tire manufacturers and importers to make sure half their tires are recycled starting in June.

To get rid of its surplus tires, Eco Tire exports them to countries including Vietnam, where they are burned for fuel, said CEO Yoram Moalem. He said the company loses money on its exports. Moalem said he was looking into additional uses for recycled rubber.

One possibility suggested by the Environmental Protection Ministry is requiring state infrastructure projects to use at least 20 percent recycled material. The ministry is also looking into using rubber to manufacture asphalt, it said. It said experiments would be conducted using recycled rubber bought from Tyrec.