From automobile tyres to water hoses

Recycling automobile tyres had been the primary business activity of Schynbolat Baikulow and his company KazKauchuk GmbH since 2010. They collected discarded tires and then had the Kazakhstan Rubber Recycling Plant process them to produce rubber granulate with various degrees of grain size. KazKauchuk sold most of this product to companies that manufacture sport floor surfaces. But he was simultaneously looking for other uses for the granulate – and wound up finding them at the German company Water Future Systems.

Astana. “Based on my experience in the industry I know that recycling rubber can produce the highest returns,” explains Schynbolat Baikulow. New technologies can be used to produce many products in nearly the same quality as products made from new rubber – for example, flooring surfaces and panels. “The best know-how in this area comes from Germany, which is why I chose this management programme,” says the manager.

Baikulow prepared very thoroughly for the training programme in Germany. He made a list of companies in the rubber industry whose business models and production he was especially interested in. This list could then be used to help make decisions about technology systems and the right equipment. In Kleinmaischeid he visited the production facilities of Conradi+Kaiser GmbH, which was followed by visits to Eldan Recycling A/S in Düsseldorf and the machinery construction company Amandus Kahl GmbH & Co. KG in Reinbek. Together with German executives, Baikulow thought about what a future collaboration might look like.

His cooperation with Water Future Systems GmbH was highly successful, and eventually led to a joint venture. The company based in Weinheim in Baden-Württemberg developed an innovative irrigation system that can lower water consumption by about 60 percent, making it attractive for countries where water resources are scarce. This subterranean irrigation system uses drip tubing to directly water the plant roots, making it exceptionally efficient (cf. the article on page xxx). Production is also cost-effective and sustainable – and here is where the recycled rubber comes in. This directly benefits the environment and helps to eliminate piles of discarded tyres. It was with this project that KazKauchuk won a competition put on by the Kazakh government’s National Agency for Technological Development. The prize came with award money of € 860,000 which has already been invested in technology and facilities from Water Future Systems.

Some of the equipment for this project was supplied by the Frankfurt company RP Recyclingtechnik GmbH. Its facilities grind and “activate” the granulate made from old tyres, making it possible for it to bond in new ways so it can be used to produce drip tubing. The first machines designed for the drip tubing production line arrived in Kazakhstan as early as the winter months of 2013. Initial tests were performed the following summer: The innovative hoses proved effective both in green spaces in the centre of Astanas and in agriculture – for vegetable cultivation and apple orchards.

In late January of 2014 KazKauchuk initiated mass production. In Kyzylorda in southern Kazakhstan 40 employees work to produce nearly four million metres of drip tubing per year. Baikulov found one of his first customers amongst the MP alumni from Kazakhstan. Assylbek Kejkibajew, Director of Sultan GmbH, plans to use the innovative irrigation system for cultivating medicinal plants.