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.
An estimated 48 million equivalent passenger unit (EPU) tyres reached their end-of-life in Australia in 2009–10. Of these approximately 66 per cent were disposed either to landfill, stockpiled or illegally dumped or categorised as unknown, 16 per cent were domestically recycled and 18 per cent were exported.
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.
Tyre Stewardship Australia
The Australian, state and territory governments have been working with the tyre industry for a number of years on the problem of Australia’s end-of-life tyres. Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) has been established by tyre importers to administer a national tyre product stewardship scheme.
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 administers the scheme and conducts education, communication, compliance and market development activities.
The tyre product stewardship scheme
The tyre product stewardship scheme has been developed through an extensive consultation process with a broad range of stakeholders across the tyre supply chain, including tyre and vehicle importers, retailers, fleet operators, local governments, tyre collectors, tyre recyclers and the mining industry.
These tyre industry stakeholders worked together with the Australian and state and territory governments to design a voluntary, industry-led tyre product stewardship scheme.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) granted authorisation for the scheme for five years until 3 May 2018.
TSA is operated and funded by the industry. 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 current tyre disposal charges.
Through the scheme, TSA aims to increase domestic tyre recycling, support new technologies, expand the market for tyre-derived products and reduce the number of end-of-life tyres ending up in landfill or illegal dumps.
Key features of the scheme
- Any stakeholder in the supply chain, including tyre manufacturers and importers, retailers, fleet operators, collectors, recyclers and local governments, 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.
- Businesses and organisations can enter into enterprise-to-enterprise agreements or contractual arrangements to ensure that end-of-life tyres are recycled in an environmentally sustainable manner, subject to consideration of relevant competition laws.
- TSA will monitor compliance through random and risk-based audits. Failure to comply may lead to revocation of a participant’s accreditation.
- TSA will publish detailed annual reports on the operation of the scheme. There will also be an independent review of the scheme after two years as required by the ACCC.