Brityrex addresses ‘part-worn’ tires and tire labeling
I recently attended the three-day Brityrex Show in the UK, and this biannual event featured for the very first time a special seminar entitled TyreTalk that incorporated a series of speakers from various aspects of the tire industry.
One of the speakers was Stefan Hay, director of the National Tyre Distribution Association (NTDA), who explained the current situation regarding illegal part-worn tires in the UK market and what the NTDA is doing to combat this spiralling problem.
Hay pointed out that there are around 4.5 million part-worn tires being sold in the UK every year, although he is led to believe the figure could be nearer to 6 million. Therefore, the NTDA is completely committed to effectively combatting the presence of illegal and non-compliant part-worn tires on UK roads.
Hay says, “We are not looking to eradicate part-worn tires overnight, and it is important to note that the government is on record as stating that part-worn tires are very important in terms of the management of waste which is clearly pointing out that recycling is a positive action and some part-worn tires are safe to use and need to be out there in the marketplace.
“However, our big concern is that new part-worn tire dealerships are opening up at a rapid pace in the UK with an even more disturbing move away from the traditional type of dealer to a more secondary ‘additional service’ as garage and supermarket car washes where they also offer to fit replacement tires. This is an alarming situation that is happening on a daily basis.
“To give you an idea of the scale of the problem we are facing, a recent incident reported by an NTDA member when inspecting tires to be replaced due to a steering problem identified by the motorist indicated that two tires on the rear axle were found to be winter part-worn tires, plus one tire on the front was around 16 years old and all four tires were in very bad condition and totally illegal. This is the sort of situation that the NTDA is trying to eradicate from unregulated side-line operations.”
According to the tire trade, 1,210 motorists were involved in tire-related accidents in 2010, and these sort of figures are commonplace on a yearly basis when you learn of the complete horror stories about part-worns such as new tires sold that were found to be 19 years old plus tires that have been repaired by a number of bizarre means... even duct tape!”
Hay went on to point out a recent Consumer Body random survey of 50 part-worn tires revealed that a staggering 98% were not marked as part-worn, which is a legal requirement. Also, 50% had been repaired to a level that was not to the British Standard, while 4% had heat damage and a certain amount were under-inflated. Obviously, all of these tires failed an inspection test and were considered unsafe — even though they were on display and available for sale.
The NTDA believes it is the responsibility of Trading Standards officers to carry out inspections on part-worn tires but is fully aware that like most public bodied organizations, they do not have the funding to support these inspections. Therefore, the NTDA is working with these officers to pinpoint the rogue traders with expertise and funding. Hay adds, “In partnership with Trading Standards officers, we have carried out a number of surveys, including one on 600 part-worn tires randomly (chosen) throughout the UK that revealed the sheer damage some of these tires were carrying, which included every type of defect and unsatisfactory repair.”
It is also worth noting that on a regional basis, in the city of Bristol, 100% of tires were not marked as part-worn, and many others were poorly repaired, damaged or at least 10 years old. In the county of Lincolnshire, 100% of tires also were not marked as part-worn and were usually damaged. And, in one case, they were the wrong size for the car they were fitted to, therefore not matching the other tires on the vehicle.
The NTDA found a similar pattern right across the UK, therefore compounding Hay’s belief that this is a serious epidemic born out of dubious tire dealers paying no attention to the condition of their tires and just being interested in making a swift profit.
Looking to the future, the NTDA is actively encouraging education for part-worn tire dealers, and with the current support of its TyreBack collection scheme and national tire retail chains it continues to try to resolve what is probably the UK’s biggest problem at the moment.
With the European Union tire labeling legislation now firmly established throughout Europe, the National Measurement Office (NMO), as part of the UK government, is commissioned to oversee fair measurement in trading operations. It not only took part in a special TyreTalk series of seminars at the event, but also exhibited at the show.
Matt Eglinton, an enforcement compliant officer at the NMO, made an informative presentation on the “Enforcement and Compliance of EU Tire Labeling,” which comes under the department’s legislation responsibility. He explained that the concept of tire labeling operates very much along the same guidelines as the energy labeling of electrical white products, which came into force a few years ago.
Eglinton says, “With over 300 different tire brands currently available in the UK market, it would be true to say that enforcing EU tire labeling regulations has proved to be quite a challenge but one that the NMO has handled successfully. And we believe the upholding of this important legislation has led to a gradual benefit for both tire retailers and consumers.
“We take very seriously the fact that when a consumer purchases a tire, they have the right to at least be able to make an informed choice of the type and brand of tire they buy through accurate and clear tire labeling. Used correctly, tire labeling will continue to help raise the standard of tires on display if it’s supported by ongoing education within the industry.”
Eglinton also pointed out that the NMO is always looking to work as closely as possible with all sectors of the tire industry from manufacturers through retailers to ensure maximum awareness and effectiveness of tire labeling through training. With an estimated £1 million being invested in the research and development of tires each year, the NMO believes it is the responsibility of tire producers to test their products to ensure they meet the standards illustrated on their labels.
Eglinton adds, “It has been encouraging to note that the majority of companies we have visited at random since tire labeling legislation was introduced are presenting and using tire labels to maximum effect, with a substantial amount of retail outlets using Automatic Invoice Labeling Systems, which give a consumer detailed information about the tires they have just purchased.
“However there is a great deal of work still to be carried out regarding relaying important information to consumers about the benefits and effectiveness of tire labeling.
“At the same time, tire retailers have to play there part in using labels to recommend particular tires they believe are best suited to their customers’ needs.”
There is no doubt in my mind that the danger of part-worn tires and EU tire labeling are very much on the ‘Action Agenda’ in the UK at the moment. ■
John Stone has been working within the global tire industry for the last 20 years. In 2004, he launched his own consulting company, Sapphire Media Services, which caters to business media clients around the globe. Stone also writes for tire and automotive-related publications in Europe, South Africa and Asia.
Hot on the heels of tire waste criminals
Another prominent speaker at the 2014 Brityrex TyreTalk Seminar sessions was Paul Keay, national waste enforcement campaigns manager at the Environment Agency (EA) who made a strong presentation on the enforcement and compliance of waste tires.
Concentrating on England, Keay pointed out that the EA is responsible for regulating the use of all waste in industry which includes tires. At present, waste crime is estimated to cost the country around £ 800 million a year apart from being an obvious health risk and tires do feature heavily in this crime scenario.
“It is quite common for people in the tire industry to get caught up in waste crime without actually being aware of it,” he said. “Many tire crimes committed are what the EA calls ‘accidental offenses,’ whereby dealers and retailers do not always realize that what they are doing is illegal, albeit indirectly through a third party.
“We recommend that they endeavor to find out where their waste tires are ultimately going to, and if they are going to be exported, then make sure they fully understand the path they will be taking and that the tires actually reach their intended destination.”
He also was keen to emphasize that the EA is working with other regulators and the police to push for an increase in the penalties for environmental offenses.
A team of specially trained officers investigate the finances of companies they suspect are illegally dumping old tires.
Of 820 official waste sites the EA visited in 2013, 42 encompassed tires. Also, five people were sent to prison for waste crimes, 15 people received suspended sentences and £1.4 million was recovered as unlawful proceeds from waste crime.