Used Australian tyres are being dumped overseas with little regard for how they are recycled or disposed of, according to Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA).
“A recent audit of where some of our recyclers send the tyres that they collect has revealed some red flags,” said Lina Goodman, newly appointed CEO of TSA.
“Whilst it is inevitable that some used tyres will be sold overseas, we want Australian tyre recyclers and collectors to be more vigilant and responsible about where they send their product.
“Although TSA does not have the authority to regulate these markets, we do want to help our participants make informed choices – choices that are safer for the environment and society.”
An industry-led product stewardship program, established by leading tyre importers keen to find a solution for end-of-life tyres, TSA revealed the recent audit uncovered concerning practices, which included:
- Product being sold to overseas businesses with undesirable health and safety practices;
- Product being stored in an unsafe manner, conducive of fire and other health-related concerns; and
- Product being used in a way that could harm the environment, such as burning or offloading to other destinations outside of the known supply-chain end-point.
TSA engaged Intertek, a global total quality assurance organisation, to assist with the verification of the downstream process of end-of-life tyres. According to TSA, Intertek, with over 130-years’ experience, was well placed to work with TSA in identifying high-risk destinations.
“Intertek is committed to a partnership with TSA in furthering the development of the scheme, to provide valuable and actionable insights into the end-of-life tyre export, distribution and processing through covering a range of crucial aspects, including distribution, environmental, health and safety, modern slavery and broader social responsibility and compliance aspects,” said Benjamin Rieck, Intertek’s general manager for Australasia.
TSA cannot direct Australian recyclers to send their product to specific overseas operators, but it can revoke the membership of non-compliant participants.
“The guiding foundation of the product stewardship scheme is that all members must use only accredited TSA collectors and recyclers,” Goodman said.
“A revoked membership implies profound commercial consequences precluding offenders from doing business with other TSA-accredited parties.”
As a result of these findings, TSA is reviewing the product stewardship scheme to ensure greater transparency in downstream processes for end-of-life tyres. Each year, Australians generate about 56 million used tyres.
It is the aim of the product stewardship scheme to help expand Australia’s tyre recycling industry and support the creation of more markets for tyre-derived products like equine tracks, road crumb and permeable paving.
TSA has to date committed $4 million to the development of sustainable end-markets for tyre-derived products within Australia.
“We are working hard to support these emerging markets, but in the meantime, we need to do more to help our participants fund and use reputable overseas recyclers,” Goodman said.
“It’s all about creating more sustainable outcomes for Australia’s end-of-life tyres. Let’s keep them away from landfill, illegal dumping and unaccountable export markets.”