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March 31, 2021

Retailers drive tyre recycling

Retailers and activists have put together a successful tyre recycling plan to save Australia from one of its most dangerous pollutants.

Old car and truck tyres may look inert but they are toxic cocktails leaching hazardous compounds including lead, dioxins, chloride, arsenic and mercury, to name a few. These pollutants can cause cancer and mutations.

tyre recycling

Any large stockpile of tyres is also a potential toxic inferno according to Dave West, campaigner with pro-recycling group, the Boomerang Alliance. Tyre fires are almost impossible to stop and the fumes and smoke spread pollutants throughout the biosphere.

In NSW alone there have been over 320 tyre-based fires since 2008, roughly one a week.

“We consider tyres to be one of the biggest environmental problems in Australia,” West said.

Up until last year the Australian tyre recycling and disposal industry was racked by rogue operators making it largely ineffectual, recycling rates were at just 16 per cent.

The far majority of Australia’s 30 million car and truck tyres thrown out each year, (these figures don’t include mining industry waste) were either stored in unregulated depots, warehouses, illegally dumped or sent overseas.

The fact is that up until last year millions of tyres were simply ‘lost’ throughout Australia, every year.

It was also clear the rogue operators were exporting old tyres to China and Vietnam where they were illegally burned for power, or simply dumped.

But this is changing. Over the last six months there have been big improvements in tyre recycling rates as the industry reinvigorates its product stewardship protocols.

tyres

In January 2014 tyre recycling rates were at 62 per cent and the industry in is on track to bring it closer to 90 per cent by mid-year according to West.

The improvements came after the Boomerang Alliance joined forces with the Australian Tyre Recycling Association (ATRA) to ensure illegal operators were closed down, and the retailers who use these operators were exposed.

The Boomerang alliance also hired private investigators, surveyed dealerships, and accessed the customer lists of recyclers to establish exactly which tyre dealers were using the rogues.

Some major tyre retailers have acted to ensure 100 per cent of the tyres they remove from  vehicles will be responsibly recycled. These companies are Bob Jane TMarts, Bridgestone, Jax  Quickfit and Kmart Tyre and Auto stores, West said.

Early in 2014 the federal government also announced the establishment of Tyre Stewardship Australia. The organisation is funded by major tyre importers such as Continental, Goodyear Dunlop, Michelin, Pirelli, Toyo and Yokohama

This new industry initiative aims to increase domestic tyre recycling, support new technologies and expand the market for tyre-derived products.

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.

But consumers also get to play their part said West. They should always ask their new-tyre retailer what exactly will be done with their old tyres, and to check this involves the reputable dealers of the ATRA.

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