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The Tycycler is an intuitive, non-motorized and affordable device that helps informal waste workers to recycle waste tires across Africa.



Current tire recycling options in Africa are driven by complex, mechanized and cost intensive technology, geographically isolated in large cities. Inaccessible to the continent's vast informal sector, that is well known to spearhead recycling activity, very few waste tires are ever recycled.

Tires that are currently recycled in Africa normally pass through an extensive collection, transfer, storage, and forwarding process before they are machine processed. This process is inefficient, expensive and adds a substantial life cycle CO2 emission to each tire. 

Tires that are not recycled present the continent with a serious public health and environmental crisis, retaining water that attracts disease-carrying insects, releasing carcinogenic smoke when burnt and preventing economic activity that can be sourced from the recovery of the rubber and steel components of tires.  

The Tycycler, prototyped in Asaba, Nigeria in January, 2016, is the first clean, non-motorized tire recycling device of its kind. The device can extract the steel bead wire from up to 150 waste tires per day, producing between 180 and 200 kilograms of high-quality steel bead wire per day. The device is cheap to build, intuitive to operate as well as mobile and rain resistant. It’s a scalable solution for the individualistic waste picker or the small to medium enterprise that seeks to take advantage, of a waste recycling opportunity that has too long been ignored and permitted to operate in a hazardous fashion. 

The Tycycler will remove the incentive for waste pickers to burn tires to obtain the steel bead wire inside of waste tires (a crude but common practice), effectively mitigating the public and environmental hazards posed by tires that are burnt or abandoned. 

The Tycler is not currently patented.

Category of the action

Reducing emissions from waste management

What actions do you propose?

The Tycycler will be marketed towards small city/town planning authorities who normally don´t have the finance to transport tire waste to large processing facilities and yet are additionally banned in relevant legislation (in all four countries) from crudely dumping the tires. Public authorities will be in an ideal position to manage the usage of The Tycycler by informal workers (i.e. waste pickers), at dumpsites, waste transfer stations and other locations that they administer/own. 

The Tycycler is also expected to resonate well with material recovery facilities and SME to corporate scale waste recycling industries that seek to take advantage of tyre recycling business activities without having to make large investments in complex technology.  

The Tycyler will be markeThe Tycycler will enhance the value of the devices by-products. Steel bead wire that is extracted without being burnt (and is therefore respectively not charred) attracts a higher market rate for recovered steels (between US$ 0.10 and 0.15 per kilogram). As the rubber components of the waste tyres are now isolated and continue to retain their high calorific value, they meet the quality standards required by clay and cement industries that will use the tires for waste to energy and heat production. Rubber is bought by these industries for between US$ 35 and US$ 50 per ton.  

Who will take these actions?

Joshua Palfreman lives and works between Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and South Africa, managing offices in each country for several NGOs and private enterprises that work on waste management and recycling issues. All together the entities and organisations represent 15-20 full and part time staff/representatives who can be called upon to help administer and implement the early stages of expansion. Joshua plans on overseeing the development of the Tycycler across these four states in Africa, working closely with existing partners in the recycling industry, cement industry and government. 



Where will these actions be taken?

In Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and South Africa. 

What are other key benefits?

·   Device is movable with human force, allowing it to be moved to new locations, but still heavy enough that it cannot be easily wheeled away and stolen.

·   Device is durable and can withstand humid, abrasive and wet environments, with few maintenance requirements over its lifetime.

·   Device works free from any fuel, water or electricity requirements—it operates exclusively with human power.

·   Device is affordable and easy to replicate—it can normally be constructed in 2-3 days for roughly $500 USD.

·   Device is efficient, normally extracting the steel bead wire from an average passenger tyre in 3-5 minutes. 

How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?

The average waste tire weighs approximately 9 kilograms. While there is not much secondary data to measure the carbon emissions of a tire that is crudely burnt in an uncontrolled manner (i.e. not incineration or professional waste to energy based burning), one study by Downward, et al. (2015) measured the CO2 emissions at 2890 g kg−1. In this case, each tyre processed by the Tycycler can be expected to sequester  26kg of CO2, while a days work (i.e. 150 tires processed) can be expected to sequester 3.9 tons of CO2. 

What are the proposal’s costs?

We project the cost of each Tycycler device to be $500 USD based on successful prototypes that have sustained operation. 

We believe that administrative, travel, transport, marketing and branding resources will cost the project up to $7,000. 

Time line

The first prototype of The Tycycler has already been built in collaboration with the Asaba Municipal Government in Nigeria. 

We seek to have five working prototypes of the device in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa by the end of the year and to have sold and distributed over 3,000 devices by the end of 2017. 

Related proposals


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Operating Principle 

The device has a sharp-edged hook where the tyre will be placed. The hook is carved out from a mild-steel sheet that has bearings beneath to allow an easy movement of the mild-steel sheet on top of a table-like platform. A manually driven hydraulic jack and a ram are connected to the device. One end of the ram is fixed to a metal plate, while the other end is hooked to the end of the mild-steel sheet. A small opening is made on the metal plate so that the sharp-edged hook on the mild-steel sheet can pass through the metal plate. When a tyre is placed on the sharp-edged hook, the operator needs to start pushing the manual hydraulic jack up and down. Pushing the jack up and down causes the ram to start pulling out its barrel. Once the barrel starts pulling out, the mild-steel sheet that the tyre is placed on starts moving backwards. The bearings on the sheet help to reduce friction that arises from the movement of the sheet on top of the table-like platform. As the ram’s barrel continues to pull out, the sheet continues to move backwards until the tyre placed on the sheet touches the metal plate. The metal plate stops the tyre from moving backwards; the sheet however, continues to move backwards through the small opening on the metal plate. At this point, the sharp edge on the mild-steel sheet causes an incision on the tyre and comes in contact with the steel bead wires in the tyre. With the continuous backward movement of the sheet, the steel bead wires pull out from the rubber fraction of the tyre, going in the same direction with the moving sheet. The steel bead wires continue to pull out until none is left in the tyre. This process takes around 3 to 5 minutes to complete.