Australian tyre disposal scheme now underway

An initiative to deal with the estimated 50 million end of life tyres removed from vehicles in Australia each year was implemented at the start of this month. Called the Tyre Product Stewardship Scheme, the industry-led programme aims to eliminate illegal dumping, reduce the number of waste tyres and increase the rate of tyre recycling in Australia from its current level of approximately 16 per cent.

Accurate statistics about tyre disposal in Australia do not exist – and this is one issue Tyre Stewardship Australia aims to address with the new scheme – however it is thought that around some 33 million end of life tyres are disposed of as landfill, stockpiled or illegally dumped each year. Large-scale exports of these tyres also take place. To compensate for the dearth of information about end of life tyres, auditing measures will be implemented under the Tyre Product Stewardship Scheme. These will also ensure participants meet their commitments.

Backers of the Tyre Product Stewardship Scheme come from across the tyre supply chain and include manufacturers, retailers, recyclers and tyre collectors. It is also supported by industry bodies along with territory, state and governments. The scheme is funded by a 25 cent (£0.14) levy on sales of new tyres. Additional financial support comes from the tyre manufacturers involved in the programme, including Continental, Goodyear-Dunlop, Michelin, Pirelli, Toyo and Yokohama. Tyre Stewardship Australia says the funds will be directed towards industry and consumer education, independent auditing and research and development into new uses for end of life tyres.

Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, believes the scheme “has the potential to play an important role” in reducing the volume of end of life tyres being exported or disposed of in an unsustainable manner. “This will reduce the environmental and health and safety hazards associated with such disposal methods.”

Tyre Stewardship Australia chairman Gerry Morvell opines that levels of recycling had declined in Australia due to “unsustainable tyre disposal” and that a two-fold increase in end of life tyre exports over the past seven years had “further undermined investments and the viability of domestic recycling activity.” He adds that “participation in the Tyre Product Stewardship Scheme will ensure that this trend is reversed” and that “it will lead to the ongoing development of new manufacturing processes, new job opportunities and entirely new industries that utilise the recycled tyre feedstock.”

The scheme will be promoted at retail outlets through signage that identifies participants.

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