By the end of this year, waste management firm Ragn Sells is supposed to clean up the piles of tires in Raadi district of Tartu, but negotiations on where ultimately to put the tires are still ongoing. It is also not clear whether the €1.5 million bill will be borne by the taxpayer, or whether most of it will be recovered from tire recyclers Rehviringlus.
Ragn Sells is to shred 14,000 tons of tires and probably sends them as raw materials to factories in Turkey, Finland, and Estonia.
Rain Vääna, a member of the board at Ragn Sells, told ERR that it is not yet certain where the tire refuse will actually go. "At present, in-depth negotiations are starting, to whom [the waste will go] and what quantities to take. And this depends on what the reception conditions are, whether there are environmental permits and so on."
Vääna explained that Estonia does not produce as many old tires in a year as the volume currently laying around in Raadi would suggest, and therefore it is not possible to rely only on local companies for their recycling.
At the same time, Eesti Energia announced last summer that its oil shale plant in Auvere village in Narva-Jõesuu, Ida-Viru County, would be able to transform up to 260,000 tons of used tires into oil in a year.
Margus Vals, board member at state-owned electricity generator Eesti Energia, confirmed to ERR that the company is trying to help out with the tires in Raadi. Before this, however, an agreement needs to be reached on how much the garbage company will pay for the delivery of tire debris and how much debris can be received by Eesti Energia.
Vals added that a year ago, the Ministry of the Environment gave them permission to test the production of oil from tire scrap. The company does not have a long-term permit yet.
"In the meantime, certain regulations have also changed, so some of the calculations that need to be made should be obtained so these permits must be redesigned. I appreciate the cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment, and we are working with them to clarify these permit conditions," Vals explained.
A year ago, Eesti Energia realized that it would be more sustainable to break up the tires themselves. In December, a public procurement was announced for the construction of the crushing complex, but no contract has been signed yet.
Vals said the first step is the tires in Raadi. "After that, we plan to recycle old tires that are produced in Estonia every year. And when the Estonian old tire concern is resolved, we will also recycle tires from neighboring countries. I believe it will take a few years for us to be able to import as well."
Eesti Energia's crushing complex would be able to dispose of about 30,000 tons of tires in a year, but there is still time until the hundreds of thousands of tons tires to be crushed that was mentioned last year.
Payer not known
In addition to where tires in Raadi end up wandering, who will pay for the major cleaning work is also open. The Ministry of the Environment has agreed that about 5,700 tons of tires are the responsibility of the state. At the same time, the largest proportion- 7,400 tons - should be taken on by non-profit organization Rehviringlus, and over 700 tons by various other companies.
Andrus Treier, head of the Environmental Investment Center (Keskkonnainvesteeringute keskuse juht), said that the state would pay Ragn Sells nearly €1.5 million for cleaning up the tire dump. Later, it is expected that it would receive almost €1 million from Rehviringlus.
"That's a big sum of money, and we're still moderately optimistic about negotiating with the Rehviringlus later on today. Maybe it's complicated to find that amount at the same time for the Rehviringlus. We're looking for a sensible compromise here."
Treier confirmed that one such compromise could be that the Rehviringlus can fulfill its obligation over a longer period. In any case, the state does not plan to take the entire cost for the taxpayer.
Editor: Katriin Eikin Sein