A new scheme has been announced, called Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), to reduce the environmental impact of used tyres and encourage a higher rate of recycling of old tyres. TSA will be funded and operated by the tyre industry itself under an authorisation granted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The TSA was launched by the Federal Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, this week with the aim of bringing Australia’s tyre business up to speed with world’s best practice. Currently, 16 per cent of used tyres are recycled and 18 per cent exported, the rest go into landfill or stockpiles. In Europe the recycling rate is 43 per cent and in the US 32 per cent.
“As part of this major new agreement, participants in the scheme will commit to only working with others who support environmentally sound end of life management of tyres,” said a statement by the Environment Minister. “These commitments will be supported by an audit program and education products about best practice will be developed. The scheme will also support new technology and ways to develop stronger domestic markets for tyre derived products to strengthen the demand for local tyre recycling.”
Each year 48 million tyres reach the end of their effective life and increased recycling could go into products like new rubber items, roads and pavements, as well as sporting fields and play grounds. The major type importers Continental, Goodyear Dunlop, Michelin, Pirelli, Toyo and Yokohama have provided the initial funding to get the scheme started.
“At Toyo, we believe the creation of sustainable industry practices relating to the environment is a top priority,” said Michael Rudd, Toyo Tyre & Rubber Australia CEO. “Although advanced fuel-efficient tyre technology already makes a substantial contribution, we also have a responsibility to ensure we find the best possible disposal solution for these tyres once they reach the end of their useful life. We believe that the sustainable disposal of used tyres can be achieved without imposing an onerous cost burden on the trade or consumers.”
The scheme is voluntary, and although the major players have signed up to the TSA, they only represent 60 per cent of the tyre market, a large number of smaller tyre importers have not come on board. The scheme is looking for members throughout the supply chain and pressure from the big suppliers may bring others into the TSA to improve the recycling performance. Tyre recycling will be audited and those failing to meet the criteria will lose accreditation.
With this initiative, the tyre industry has a chance to clean up its own act without major government interference. However, if the industry as a whole doesn’t act responsibly, the consequences could be an environmental crack down. Lack of proper recycling has led to a situation where tyres can be found littering our landscapes and waterways, and taking up scarce landfill space. Not to mention, fires in stockpiles releasing toxic gases and tyre stockpiles provide breeding habitats for mosquitoes and vermin.