Product stewardship for end-of-life tyres

Tyre Stewardship Australia

Launch of a significant new product stewardship scheme to help tackle the significant environmental challenges arising from used tyres.

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.

Tyre Stewardship Australia

Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) has been established by tyre importers to administer a national tyre product stewardship scheme. Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, launched TSA on behalf of the tyre industry on 20 January 2014.

Through the scheme, TSA 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, exported as baled tyres or illegally dumped.

TSA will be responsible for administering the scheme and conducting education, communication and market development activities.

The tyre product stewardship scheme

Guidelines outlining the operations of the industry-led tyre product stewardship scheme for end-of-life tyres were established in consultation with industry and Australian and state and territory governments.

Key features of the scheme 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.

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.

ACCC authorisation

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.

Background

A 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