Cologne: 09.–11.06.2026 #thetirecologne

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An interview with Christina Guth from AZuR

“We do a lot of convincing”

On June 4, the used tire resolution will be signed at THE TIRE COLOGNE 2024. The Alliance Future Tires AZuR wants to create more awareness for retreading and recycling. We talk to network coordinator Christina Guth about the goals of the initiative.

Christina Guth - Management Board CGW GmbH & AZuR Network Coordinator

The Future Tire Alliance is calling for people to sign the used tire resolution at THE TIRE COLOGNE 2024. © AZuR Allianz Zukunft Reifen

Aims of the initiative

What goals is the Alliance for the Future of Tires AZuR pursuing and how are you going about it?

The background to our initiative is that around 20 million tons of used tires are generated worldwide every year. From a global perspective, mobilization is also increasing, which means that tire consumption is continuing to grow. On the other hand, there are already proven methods of recycling.

We are working towards recycling 90 percent of the tires used in Europe. At the end of its service life, the material should enter the recycling process and find a new use through material and chemical recovery. Ideally, every tire would be retreaded, which could save millions of tons of resources, avoid waste and reduce CO2 emissions in Europe every year.

In the commercial vehicle sector, some European countries already have a 50 percent share of retreaded tires. Retreading is also technically very well positioned in the passenger car sector.

Material and chemical recycling

What happens to the material when retreading is no longer possible?

What is produced with the addition of tire granulate is just as robust and weather-resistant as the tires themselves. Areas of application include, for example, mats for green roofs or roof drainage, which offer solutions for the increase in heavy rainfall events.
Underlays for photovoltaic systems can also be made from recycled tire material. A large amount of the tire granulate can be used in asphalt or sound insulation mats. Chemical recycling via pyrolysis is currently still in the industrial testing phase. The initial results are promising for the future.

Impact sound insulation made from tire rubber granulate (Image: AZuR Allianz Zukunft Reifen)

On roof terraces, impact sound insulation made of tire rubber granulate with an integrated drainage function ensures the best possible sound insulation. © AZuR Allianz Zukunft Reifen

Innovations in retreading

What other forward-looking technical innovations do you currently see in the field of tire retreading and material and chemical recycling?

The tire industry is making efforts to sustainably change the materials in tires. Some manufacturers are already using material from devulcanization. In this process, used tires are ground into powder and mixed with additives to produce a rubber compound for reuse.

Robotics will play a greater role in retreading in the future. Companies in this area could implement automation processes in the future without too much effort. There has already been great progress in this area. This is where artificial intelligence comes into play, which can help with automation. We are trying to put together a pool of partners who can support the economically sensible implementation of these topics. For example, we are planning a retreading summit in October to bring together participating companies, machine manufacturers, software providers, etc. and provide new impetus.

Retreading of truck tires (Image: AZuR Allianz Zukunft Reifen)

According to the AZuR life cycle assessment supported by the DBU, retreading truck tires causes around 63 percent less CO2 emissions. © AZuR Allianz Zukunft Reifen

Exchange in the network

The AZuR network brings together various partners. How do you manage to get them to work as a team?

There are now over 70 partners in the network, including eight new tire manufacturers. There is an exchange between industry, trade and science that did not exist before. For example, we organize working groups with new tire manufacturers and retreaders, because the circular economy cannot work on its own. Everyone involved must work in the same direction. It's about the interplay between production, disposal, retreading, material and chemical recycling and research, for example in the field of pyrolysis. If good concepts are developed here, this will also mean greater independence from raw material imports in the future.

Identifying possible solutions

How do you motivate new partners to participate?

The contacts within the industry help. There is no other initiative in Europe that deals with the topic of tire recycling in such a networked way as AZuR. We also do a lot of persuading at local level.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, we are currently planning a themed table as part of the Circular Economy Round Table series to identify sensible solutions. In April 2024, the future of tire recycling was discussed at a EuRIC conference in Brussels with a high level of AZuR participation, politicians and experts from all over Europe. I am sure that the network will continue to grow at European level.

Annual meeting of the Future Tire Alliance (Image: AZuR Allianz Zukunft Reifen)

Annual meeting of the Future Tire Alliance in April 2024 with 67 AZuR partners from all segments of the tire and recycling industry and various EU countries. © AZuR Allianz Zukunft Reifen

EU criteria and taxonomy

How is the issue assessed at European level?

We are in contact at EU level with specialist politicians in the European Parliament and Commissioners of the European Commission, but not much will be decided there before the European elections. We have managed to ensure that the current EU criteria for green public procurement in the road transport sector allow all public sector vehicles to be fitted with retreaded tires in a legally compliant manner. In practice, however, the EU Taxonomy Regulation on the road transport of goods and passengers prevents the use of retreaded tires, as retreaded tires are still not included in the scope of the tire labeling regulation. Here, the EU is contradicting its own regulations, which we have strongly objected to.

Christina Guth © Allianz Zukunft Reifen

Christina Guth © Allianz Zukunft Reifen

Signing of the used tire resolution

On June 4, 2024, the used tire resolution will be signed at THE TIRE COLOGNE in the AZuR area. What does the resolution contain and demand?

What we have already achieved with the network is that many people are addressing the issue. However, we have not yet achieved a real political breakthrough.

We want to use THE TIRE COLOGNE 2024 as an international industry platform to gain the necessary majorities. AZuR is represented at the trade fair with an area of 450 square meters and 16 partners. Two years ago, this would have been unimaginable.

When the resolution is signed on June 4, we will also be present at the Environment Week in Berlin with a focus on retreading. We would like to present the signed resolution to the political decision-makers there. The resolution will remain open and can also be signed by other parties afterwards.


Leif Hallerbach I Broekman+Partner