Asia/Pacific, Circular Economy, News

Tyre recycler plugs into dual technologies

A new venture formed from Energy Estate and InfraCo to develop and build tyre recycling plants in Australia and New Zealand will use the two technologies of Vertech/RubberJet Valley tyre disintegration and Tyromer rubber devulcanisation. However, the Australian Tyre Recycling Association (ATRA) is doubtful of the efficacy of the business model.

The entity known as Revyre seeks to solve waste problem through the rollout of its combined recycling technology in  projects that are modular, scalable and mobile. Energy Estate chief advisor Simon Corbell described this as a total tyre recycling process that will destruct and re-purpose any constituent parts of a tyre, turning it into a high value polymer product for export and clean high tensile scrap steel.

Suited for OTR tyres

Corbell said that the tyre derived polymer or TDP will be exported for direct re-use in the tyre manufacturing process. In particular the process uses no chemicals or solvents, is commercially viable on an industrial scale and according to Corbell is the only known environmentally friendly devulcansation technology. While Revyre’s solution can address all tyre sizes, it is particularly well suited to larger off-the-road (OTR) tyres, such as those used in mining and agricultural operations in Australia and New Zealand.

“The deployment of Revyre’s new technology and development of processing plants will be a critical element for developing a circular economy in Australia and will make a significant positive environmental impact when it comes to recycling and waste management.

“The ability to scale the number of plants creates significant economic benefits for regional Australia and we expect to develop plants in several States. Each operating plant will provide 30 permanent, operational jobs, in addition to the development, construction, installation and commissioning jobs. There will be numerous direct and indirect supply chain job opportunities,” Corbell said. “

Concern about business model

The Australian Tyre Recycling Association (ATRA) executive officer Robert Colman told Inside Waste  that he is concerned at the number of ventures which appear to be sprouting in this market.

“We’ve heard about these apparently revolutionary solutions for used tyres many times before and they invariably amount to nothing. Unfortunately they often also result in investors and governments loosing lots of money.’ and investors would be wise to focus on what really works for used tyres, namely, rubber crumb for roads and soft fall surfacing, Tyre Derived Fuels for legitimate energy recovery, Australia’s bus and truck retreading industry and civil work applications.

“Vulcanising and pyrolising for carbon black and use in new tyres is at best highly speculative.

‘In addition, this company appears to be unaware of the Australian marketplace and regulatory landscape. There will not be hundreds of thousands of used tyres stockpiled as this is mostly prevented (except in Queensland) by state regulations and ATRA members have capacity to process every used tyre in Australia and are currently processing around 25million units annually, ” he said.

 Up to three plants

In a statement, however Corbell added that, considering the scale and locations of Australia’s mining industry in particular, there was a sufficient tyre disposal requirement to justify at least 2-3 Revyre plants in each of the mainland states

According to Corbell, this solution can play a critical part in sustainably managing current and future tyre stockpiles. It is a financially attractive and environmentally superior solution relative to alternative tyre disposal options. The plants will seek to procure renewable energy for operations as part of its dedication to maintaining a low carbon footprint and lessening the environmental impact of the tyre production cycle.

Energy Estate director Luke Panchal commented, “Following the tyre export ban from 2021, Australia will have annually 160,000 tonnes of tyres stockpiling that it needs to address. This means the need for environmentally and socially responsible and cost effective solutions for managing used tyre disposal in Australia is critical – especially for heavy OTR tyres.”