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Publications archive - Waste and recycling


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

A National Approach to Waste Tyres

Commonwealth Department of Environment, 2001

5 Regulatory and Policy Frameworks

This section reviews the actions that governments have taken and the systems put in place in relation to the management of waste tyres.

5.1 Regulation for environmental protection

Table 5.1 provides a summary of government regulatory frameworks and some related matters in each of the States and Territories.

There is substantial variation across the jurisdictions in relation to the content and form of the individual regulatory and policy frameworks. Nevertheless, in terms of broad goals there is a certain degree of convergence even if the detail of the implementation is quite different. Moreover, during the consultation program it became apparent that some of the States and Territories have conducted substantial reviews of the way that waste tyres are managed, and that further changes are foreshadowed.

Ultimately, the vigour of direct government regulatory actions in each jurisdiction reflects the priority placed on the seriousness of the risk of environmental damage associated with waste tyres. Where sufficiently strong commercial incentives exist to take waste tyres to an appropriate receival facility, the need for direct regulation is much reduced. The incentives arise in cases where the demand for waste tyres results in higher market prices. This is seen in Victoria where, on one estimate, over half the tyres are used beneficially for fuel. The cement kilns at Gladstone are also expected to take an increasing number of tyres, and this has given the Queensland Government the confidence to consider seriously a ban on the disposal of waste tyres to landfill by 2003, although there would be some exemptions for remote landfills.

The greater part of the entries in Table 5.1 relate to controls on those activities in relation to waste tyres that have a clear environmental impact or that aim to reduce the volume of landfill taken up by tyres. Many jurisdictions have provided for statutory measures or guidance which reduce the chance of fires on premises specifically where tyres are stored by prescribing, for example, how tyres are to be placed within a landfill. In some jurisdictions, a flexible approach has been adopted with certain activities allowed subject to approval being granted on a case by case basis where it can be demonstrated that the risks to the environment are not excessive.

Considerable efforts have been made by governments to reduce the rate of illegal dumping. As a broad statement, general environmental regulation and licensing are largely focused on controls on premises. It is notable that nearly all of the States and Territories have regulatory requirements in regard to the collection and transport of waste tyres. This is an activity that, in itself, is not likely to have significant adverse environmental impacts beyond the normal range of environmental damage from road transport. However, the collector/transporter, in conjunction with tyre dealers, is the key to addressing problems of illegal dumping.

One of the difficulties for regulators in the past has been to differentiate between dumping and legitimate applications involving waste tyres. Some jurisdictions continue to allow applications where tyres finish up in the environment. However, clear trends can be seen over the last decade (and apparently continuing into the future) of a tightening of the requirements for these sorts of activities. In some jurisdictions, this has been achieved through removing ambiguities in the definition of waste as applied to tyres. In other cases, approval is now needed or limits have been placed on the numbers of tyres that may be used (the limits may be absolute or they may be expressed as a threshold for triggering the requirement for a formal licence).

Cross-border movements of tyres were identified as a potential issue in the case of the ACT surrounded by NSW and, it may be assumed, also in other places where populations are concentrated near State/Territory borders, such as the coastal region near the NSW/Queensland border. Waste tyres will flow from a jurisdiction with high disposal costs (or tight controls on illegal dumping) to one with low disposal costs (or lax controls). With a number of States proposing to follow the lead of SA in setting up schemes to track waste tyres, significant cross-border movements of tyres will impose some difficulties. The authors have been unable to estimate current cross-border flows of waste tyres, notwithstanding the provisions in regard to record keeping contained in the NEPM on the Movement of Controlled Wastes Between States and Territories.

Table 5.1 Summary of regulatory frameworks

Item Jurisdiction Regulatory Requirement
Landfill disposal ACT Allowed

NSW Allowed outside SMA/ERA. Whole tyres may not be disposed within the SMA/ERA

NT Allowed

Queensland Ban on whole tyres in 2001; complete ban proposed for 2003

SA Shredded only

Tasmania Shredded only to approved sites (if fire fighting systems are available)

Victoria Shredded only

WA In TLEZ: shredded only and need approval Other conditions on separation of piles of waste tyres
Reuse optionsa ACT Approval required

NSW Allowed on case by case basis in consultation with local council and EPA

NT Allowed

Queensland Allowed but needs licence if >500 tyres

SA Approval required if >5 tonnes/year

Tasmania Allowed at present; approval may be required for large or atypical projects

Victoria Approved on case by case basis

WA Permitted if <100 tyres, else needs approval
Mine sites ACT -

NSW No disposal on site

NT Allowed to be buried on site in an environmentally suitable manner - eg within wasterock piles

Queensland May be buried on site subject to guidelines and becomes notifiable activity

SA Subject to general conditions

Tasmania -

Victoria -

WA On site disposal allowed outside TLEZ subject to approval
Transport ACT -

NSW Licensed for loads > 2 tonnes

NT Must meet NEPM provisions for interstate transport - will license in future under the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act

Queensland Licensed if >500 tyres/year

SA Licensed

Tasmania Only by approved transporter if tyres are to be disposed

Victoria -

WA Tyres may only be transported to licensed storage site or approved disposal site
Storage ACT -

NSW Licensed if >50 tonnes but must comply with NSW Fire Brigades Storage Guidelines and (upcoming) EPA Environmental Guidelines for Used Tyre Storage.

NT Will license in future under the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act

Queensland Licensed if >500 tyres/year

SA If more than 500 waste tyres per annum need to be licensed by EPA and comply with Metropolitan Fire Service Guidelines

Tasmania Requires an environmental assessment if >100 tonnes/year. Governed by waste mgt regulations

Victoria Draft guidelines on stacks: <5,000 tyres each

WA Licensed if >100 tyres/year, or >500 for a tyre fitting business
Receival Facility ACT -

NSW Licensed if processing >5000 tonnes/year

NT Will license in future under the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act

Queensland Licensed if >500 tyres/year

SA Licensed

Tasmania Require an environmental assessment if >100 tonnes/year

Victoria Covered by general environmental protection regulation

WA -
Reporting ACT -

NSW Reporting under licence conditions. Tracking scheme under IWRP

NT Will be required under licences issued under the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act

Queensland Tracking scheme proposed for 2001

SA Tracking scheme for whole tyres using docket system

Tasmania Tracking scheme proposed for mid 2001 using docket system

Victoria -

WA -
Tyre Industry Plans ACT -

NSW Tyre Industry Waste Reduction Plan (IWRP)

NT None at present

Queensland Waste Tyre Strategy

SA -

Tasmania Scrap Tyre Management System - voluntary levy by retailer

Victoria -

WA -

Note: (a) Options might include use as on-farm silage, barriers on racetracks, landscaping, etc

5.2 Government actions to promote the waste hierarchy

5.2.1 General

Among government initiatives to improve the management of waste tyres, considerable effort in developing policy has been targeted at extracting increased value from a resource as well as to protect against externalities associated with disposal of a waste. As with direct regulation for environmental impacts, government intervention in this area aims to address market failure, but market failure arising from such matters as the difficulty in raising capital or imperfect knowledge due to preconceptions on the part of consumers about reprocessed products. In this case, direct regulation (even performance based regulation) is unlikely to be effective and the best outcomes can be expected to flow from the use of market forces, though supported by appropriate legislative or regulatory provisions.

While it is convenient to separate the two broad types of government action (direct regulation and forms of ‘industry assistance’), it is important not to lose sight of the important connections between the two. The major environmental impacts arise from poor practice of tyre disposal and incentives for illegal dumping arise because of the low (or negative in cases where there is a ‘gate fee’) value of a large proportion of waste tyres at present. If government action results in waste tyres being put to higher valued uses, then the consequent increase in the market price may result in waste tyres being a sought after resource rather than a waste to be disposed of at the lowest possible cost. However, in the short to medium term, it is not anticipated that the price of waste tyres will rise to a level which would obviate the need for more regulatory based controls on collection and disposal.

A range of broad schemes has been developed by a number of governments. In NSW, a Tyre Industry Waste Reduction Plan has been developed and implementation of the Plan is underway. The provisions in the Plan are legally binding on members of the tyre industry and also on the Tyre Industry Waste Management Council established to manage the Plan. Tasmania has introduced a Scrap Tyre Management System, which is voluntary. The Queensland Government in consultation with the tyre industry and other stakeholders has developed a Waste Tyre Strategy which contains a co ordinated action plan.

On a more specific matter, the Western Australian Government has introduced a regulation that makes it an offence to damage a tyre casing that is suitable for retreading.

5.2.2 Region specific issues

Governments in a number of jurisdictions have recognised that it is not efficient to apply the same level of regulation across the entire State or Territory. Conditions in the more closely settled areas differ from those in the more remote areas. The environmental and related impacts of similar activities differ across regions, and the costs of environmental protection measures on a per capita basis may be unsupportable for smaller communities. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of waste management where, for example, remote areas enjoy abundant and low cost landfill space but economies of scale, which would promote high value uses, are largely absent.

Some States have defined geographic boundaries that differentiate the regulatory requirements. The conditions regulating the disposal of tyres are different within the tyre landfill exclusion zone (TLEZ) and the remainder of WA, and the SMA/ERA and the remainder of NSW. In other States and Territories, variations in the application of the regulatory approach are not based on defined geographic regions, but rather on the size of the community and the distance to major centres.

Representatives from a number of States and Territories have raised the problems associated with economies of scale and the need to reach some threshold in the annual number of waste tyres before investment in processing facilities can become commercially feasible.

There is anecdotal evidence that, notwithstanding the low value of waste tyres per unit volume or weight, waste tyres are transported significant distances to locations where they can be used commercially, or even exported out of Australia after some preliminary processing.

In addition, efforts are being made within some of the less densely populated regions to investigate opportunities for aggregating tyres at collection points for later transport to larger centres where further processing could be undertaken. The success of such schemes is heavily dependent on the level of transport charges, including the possibility of entering agreements for reduced rates for backloading trucks.

There are specific considerations in regard to waste tyres at mining sites. For certain earthmoving equipment, the tyres are huge (of the order of 1 tonne or more) and there is limited capability for shredding them. Moreover, the remoteness of many of the sites means that transport of the tyres to a processing location is not economically feasible4. In Queensland, NT , Tasmania and WA, waste tyres at mine sites are allowed to be used in civil engineering structures or disposed on site provided that it can be demonstrated that such practices do not pose threats to the environment or in relation to fires.

4 Corbett (1999) estimates a transport cost of 24 cents/km per tyre.