Solar systems installed at Australian Bandag retreading plant

Wacol, in the outer suburbs of Brisbane, is in a region of Australia that enjoys more than 260 days of full or partial sunshine a year. It is also home to Bridgestone’s sole manufacturing facility in the country, the retreading plant operated by Bridgestone Australia subsidiary Bandag Manufacturing Pty Ltd. Bridgestone reports it is now utilising the sunshine in Wacol at the facility following the installation of two 100 kilowatt solar power systems.

The solar systems’ installation was the culmination of a project representing six months of planning and an undisclosed but reportedly “significant” investment. More than 350 peak solar panels have been installed on the factory’s roofing, which is also used to harvest 265,000 litres of rainwater for cooling equipment within the plant. Another 400 panels were fitted to the roof of the Quality Tyre Sales retail business that operates on the same site.

Bridgestone Australia managing director Andrew Moffatt said the project was part of the tyre maker’s ongoing mission to lower its impact on the environment. “At Bridgestone, we take our responsibilities very seriously and are extremely conscious of how our operations affect the environment,” he commented. “Tyre retreading is a highly efficient form of recycling in itself, but we every day we strive to ensure our commitment to the environment doesn’t end with our products. This solar panel project is a significant step forward in our quest to lower our impact and will save an estimated 220.8 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year.”

Greg Nielsen, general manager retread business at Bandag Manufacturing Pty Ltd, added that installing the new solar power systems represents another step towards making the Bandag business carbon neutral. “The 357 peak solar panels installed at our Bandag processing plant will generate approximately 136.3 megawatt hours per annum. Alongside that, the Quality Tyre Sales site has had a further 400 panels installed, meaning it will become almost self-sufficient in daylight hours.

“We’re making a concerted effort to be smarter in the way we do things and it’s a great feeling knowing we’re making our own power, instead of just using it,” continued Nielsen. “This, paired with our water harvesting system, means that even on our least productive days we’re still being productive.”

Along with a significant reduction in Bandag’s energy costs, Bridgestone Australia estimates a five year return on its investment. A number of further environment-related projects are also planned for the retreading facility this year. “We want to lead the way in the industry, and believe all tyre manufacturers should strive to be more environmentally aware,” elaborated Nielsen. “This year, we are turning our attention to doubling our rainwater harvesting capacity and finalising a plan to recycle 200 tonnes worth of tread scrap annually.”

Bandag is the number one tyre retreading brand in Australasia, and the Wacol facility retreads more than 550,000 truck tyre casings every year.

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