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The road transport world has a lot of problems and the optimization of management costs makes a difference. A tangible contribution comes from retreaded tyres that help to reduce costs with total safety. We talked about it with the chairman of AIRP, Stefano Carloni

Gianluca Bruni

The struggling economy is creating serious problems also for the goods and public transport sectors. In this particular situation, what contribution can retreaded tyres make to easing costs for trucks and buses?
The economic situation is weighing heavily on Italian transport firms which already have cost issues that are decidedly greater than those of many competitors, especially those in eastern Europe. If we consider the number and cost of truck tyres, it is very obvious that saving on tyres without sacrificing safety and performance is always very important and even more so at this time. For example, for a 44 ton semi-trailer that does 120,000 kilometres a year, the expenditure for retreaded tyres is around 2,200 euros compared to 3,900 euros for completely new tyres.
Considerable savings are made by using retreaded tyres and they have increased recently with the new end-of-life-tyre (ELT) management system which manufacturers and importers are required to adopt and cover the cost with a contribution on new changeover tyres. Road transport firms can therefore significantly improve their outgoings by using retreads. But their use has to be programmed. Firstly, the vehicle’s original equipment must include new and good quality tyres that can be retreaded. Secondly, the tyres must be used correctly with regular maintenance and tyre pressure checks and the avoidance of excessive loads that put too much stress on the tyres. Lastly, the services of tyre sector professionals must be used.

The economy is also creating considerable problems for car drivers. Do you think that retreads are an important solution also for them in the current economic situation?
Certainly. Car drivers could have significant financial advantages by using retreads that have the same performance and safety. At one time, the use of retreads was widespread also for cars, but misunderstandings changed the situation. Nowadays, retreads have acquired an ecological value that many people see as being positive. Care about the environment is determining many knowledgeable choices. So it is highly likely that in more environment-sensitive areas more people will be proud to use retreaded tyres. Besides, although the figures are low, the use of retreads for cars is growing throughout Europe.

The necessity to contain operating costs at this time is particularly felt in the public transport sector. For reasons that are essentially ecological, the law states that public fleets must allocate at least 20% of their budget for changeover tyres to retreads. Is this law being observed by all local public transport fleets? If it is not, what measures could be adopted to ensure that it is respected?
Without doubt there are public fleets whose use of retreads is well above the minimum established by law. In fact there are many urban public transport firms that exceed 50%. However, I believe that there are cases where it is not respected. Legal action could be taken to enforce the law, but I believe that, given the economic situation, public fleet managers will realize the seriousness of an attitude that not only breaks the law but also does not help the environment or the balance sheets of their organizations, which certainly need to save.

The purchase of changeover tyres by private goods transport fleets currently includes about 30% retreads, but in other countries, such as the United States, it is over 50%. What can be done to bring the use of retreaded tyres by Italy’s private and public fleets close to the more virtuous figures of those abroad?
It is true, in the United States the purchase of changeover tyres for trucks includes more than 50% of retreads. And the United States is not an isolated case. It might seem strange that retreading is widespread in advanced economies. There are precise reasons at the basis of this situation. The main one is that retreading is very important for the environment as it slows down the need to dispose of casings and enables the recovery of raw materials. This is very important in advanced economies where considerable attention is given to environmental problems. To increase the number of retreads in Italy, for some time now our Association has been involved in communication campaigns and institutional relations that have already given results. I believe that in the current situation, the economic crisis will encourage more interest in retreads also in Italy.  Without doubt, public incentives in favour of road transport could be of great importance. Our Association has asked the various governments that have led our country in recent years to support eco-friendly measures such as the use of retreads.

Retreading tyres is also important for protecting the environment and for Italy’s economy. According to the latest data, how can this contribution be quantified?
Every year, AIRP, the association that unites Italy’s tyre retreading firms, prepares a balance sheet of the ecological and economic advantages of using retreads. The latest balance sheet revealed that in Italy in 2011, 114.1 million litres of petroleum and 32,597 tons of raw materials were saved thanks to retreading; 33,062 tons of scrap tyres did not become waste, and no less than 297.2 million euros were saved by using retreads. Lastly, and again thanks to retreading, 40,200 tons of CO2 were not released into the atmosphere because retreading a tyre compared to making a new one saves 30% of carbon dioxide.

A considerable contribution to the development of the tyre retreading industry has been made by our country, where there are also major firms that manufacture retreading equipment. What are the export prospects for the retreading industry’s machinery and equipment?
There are positive  prospects for exporting retreading equipment and machinery. In the first place, because the demand for retreading systems can count primarily on the policies of countries with high levels of traffic and tend to reduce its impact on the environment (they are also aware of the savings that can be made with retreads). Secondly, because countries where traffic levels have increased only recently are creating vehicle servicing networks and installing industries to serve them that include the tyre retreading industry. Thirdly, because Italian retreading equipment is of extremely high quality and it is renowned and valued throughout the world.

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