Tyre Stewardship Australia working with industry to give old tyres new life

During the 2018-19 financial year, 120,000 tonnes of used tyres in the off-the-road (OTR) tyre sector were landfilled, buried or stockpiled. Tyre Stewardship explains how its tyre product stewardship scheme aims to improve the recovery rate of used tyres.

In consultation with Randell Environmental Consulting and Brock Baker Environmental Consulting, Tyre Stewardship has analysed the consumption and eventual fate of off-the-road tyres in the mining industry.

The analysis, which can be found on Tyre Stewardship’s website; identified that the estimated recovery rate during 2018-19 was only 11 per cent, with the remaining 89 per cent not recovered and an assumed 81 per cent disposed on the mine site or at farming or other similar sites.

The mining industry accounted for 61 per cent of consumption of OTR tyres, compared with 27 per cent in agriculture, 7 per cent in construction, 2 per cent in manufacturing and trade, and 3 per cent in aviation.

Tyre Stewardship acknowledges the challenges mining and other sectors that use OTR tyres face, including the remote locations that sites are based.

In addition, the size of OTR tyres makes disposal difficult and a limited number of recyclers have the capacity to safely recycle heavy earth moving tyres.

From its research, the company’s tyre product stewardship scheme was born with the aim to develop an achievable solution for end of life tyres.

Projects under the scheme include the crumb rubber capacity expansion for Spray Seal in Queensland and manufacturing reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) from crumbed tyres that would have otherwise been destined for landfill.

Tyre Stewardship chief executive officer Lina Goodman says the organisation will be working with a group of Western Australian mining organisations to gain a better understanding of what is required to achieve better recovery rates of OTR tyres in the industry.

“The purpose of this preliminary research working with this cluster of enthusiastic organisations is to understand what is available from a recycling perspective immediately and what is on the horizon in the medium term,” Goodman tells Australian Mining.

“This research will see the consolidation of relevant waste data and working in partnership with the Western Australian Department of Water and Environment Regulation, mining corporations and the sector, Tyre Stewardship believes will provide a start to better understand how to increase recovery rates.”

With so few options for recycling used tyres from the OTR sector in Australia, Tyre Stewardship plans to consolidate this research and waste data to help provide mining companies with a clear pathway to recycling these problematic waste tyres.

This requires not only the assistance of the mining industry in addressing the problem, but also the earth moving tyre companies themselves to participate in actively reducing the waste within the industry.

Tyre Stewardship Australia chief executive officer Lina Goodman.

“Whilst the mining companies are keen to understand what can be done to help them address this problem, we really need to see earth moving tyre companies participate in the Tyre Product Stewardship Scheme and contribute as their passenger tyre counterparts have been doing,” Goodman explains.

“This will provide the necessary funds to assist the sector to find viable markets for large earth moving tyres and conveyor belts.”

Similarly with OTR tyres, Australia has limited recycling options for used conveyor belts, for which there is less information of how many reach their end of life and are discarded of annually.

Mining companies are then forced to find storage solutions for tyres and conveyors on site until they can be safely disposed of.

“What we are yet to capture is the volume of used conveyor belts that reach end of life each year, it is estimated that this could be just as high as end of life OTR tyres,” Goodman says.

“There are currently limited options available in Australia for recycling used tyres and conveyor belts from the OTR sector and in many cases, when they are recovered, they are snipped into manageable pieces and sent overseas for reprocessing.

“Tyre Stewardship is attempting to, with the sector and recycling industry, help navigate through options that will provide mining companies with a pathway to recycling this problematic waste issue.”

Recently, Tyre Stewardship’s key focus has been on the passenger and tyre truck sector, due to passenger and tyre truck importers contributing to a levy to find a solution for the tyres.

Now that there is interest, investment and solutions in place in this space, Tyre Stewardship believes it is time to apply the same pressure within the OTR sector.

“For many years Tyre Stewardship has focused on the passenger and truck tyre sector, driving solutions for used passenger and truck tyres, providing optimal outcome through market development activities and local investment by recyclers,” Goodman adds.

“It is now time for Tyre Stewardship to focus on the OTR sector and generate the same level of interest, support and sustainable outcomes.”

This feature also appears in the October edition of Australian Mining.

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