Less waste, more resources
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has announced it will give the go ahead for the tyre recycling scheme. The decision paves the way for the tyre industry to implement the scheme and start addressing a growing environmental issue for Australia.
- Australian Government welcomes ACCC decision on industry's Tyre Stewardship Scheme - media release, 12 April 2013
Assisting industry to develop a voluntary industry-led product stewardship scheme for end-of-life tyres is a priority initiative under the COAG endorsed National Waste Policy.
Guidelines for the tyre product stewardship scheme
An industry-government working group has finalised Guidelines describing the operations of an industry-led tyre product stewardship scheme. The scheme aims to increase domestic tyre recycling, expand the market for tyre-derived products and reduce the number of Australian end-of-life tyres that are sent to landfill, illegally dumped or exported as baled tyres for environmentally unsustainable use.
Key features of the scheme outlined in the Guidelines are:
- any stakeholder in the tyre supply chain, including tyre and vehicle importers, retailers, fleet operators, local governments, collectors, recyclers and the mining industry, may apply to become a participant in the voluntary scheme
- participants commit to play their part in ensuring end-of-life tyres go to an environmentally sound use
- a company called Tyre Stewardship Australia, funded by tyre importers, will be responsible for administering the scheme and conducting education, communication, market development and early stage research activities.
- Guidelines for the tyre product stewardship scheme - available on the SCEW website
The scheme will impose a levy on participating tyre importers to fund the operation of the scheme, including for market development and research. The levy will not directly fund the collection and recycling of end-of-life tyres. The collection and recycling costs associated with ensuring end-of-life tyres go to an environmentally sound use are likely to be passed on to consumers at around the same level as disposal charges that are paid by many tyre consumers now.
The Australian Tyre Industry Council applied for authorisation of the scheme on 28 September 2012. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has granted authorisation for the scheme for five years until 3 May 2018.
The next key step for the tyre industry is to establish Tyre Stewardship Australia to implement and administer the scheme. Tyre Stewardship Australia is expected to commence operations in 2013.
Tyres are expected to be one of the first products to be put forward for accreditation under the voluntary product stewardship arrangements of the Product Stewardship Act 2011.
The Tyre Implementation Working Group was formed in May 2010 to develop this initiative with representation from the Australian Tyre Industry Council, Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Australian Motor Industry Federation, Australian Tyre Recyclers Association, Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce and the Australian, Queensland and New South Wales governments.
What is the problem with end-of-life tyres?
A large number of Australia's end-of-life tyres are being disposed through landfill, stockpiles, exported as baled tyres or illegally dumped and only a small proportion are being recycled. The Hyder report has estimated that 48 million tyre equivalent passenger unit (EPU) tyres reached their end of life in Australia in 2009-10.
- An EPU is a standardised measure for the quantity of end-of-life tyres.
- One EPU contains as much rubber and other materials as a 'typical' passenger tyre.
- The assumed weight of one new EPU is taken to be 9.5 kilograms and one used EPU is taken to be 8 kilograms.
- Tyres are generally made from rubber, steel and textiles.
Apart from the costs to the community and governments through littering our landscapes and waterways and taking up scarce landfill space, end-of-life tyres can be a source of health and environmental concerns; fires in stockpiles can release toxic gases and tyre stockpiles provide breeding habitats for mosquitoes and vermin. Dumped and landfilled tyres also represent a loss of potentially valuable resources as end-of-life tyres and tyre derived products can be put to productive use in many ways, which include:
- the manufacture of new rubber products
- road construction as a constituent in asphalt roads
- surface materials such as artificial turf, sporting field and playground surfaces, and conveyor belts
- alternative fuel for industries such as producers of energy and cement, and as a substitute for diesel in explosives
- civil engineering such as embankments and lightweight fill.
More background information is available in our online archive