Australia, Circular Economy, News

TSA: striving for real world outcomes for tyre derived products

The 2019/20 Annual report from Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) shares the wins, challenges and the vision of the industry funded product stewardship organisation that has a new feel and re-invigorated focus to it.

TSA CEO Lina Goodman explained that the organisation’s vision had not changed fundamentally: it will continue to strive for the transformation of end-of-life tyres into a valuable commodity, sought by ethical players for their profits but also for the common interest of society.

She added that, despite the substantial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, some encouraging outcomes were achieved.

“Waste does not stop. That means our approach to sustainably managing end of life tyres cannot stop. Our team’s quick adaption to this new norm and virtual engagement became paramount to us navigating successfully through Covid.”

Wins included:

  • A commitment of more than $2.3 million in market development funding, making a total of more than $6 million committed by TSA since its inception to projects that are demonstrating how waste tyres can be utilised in alternate uses.
  • Partnering with auto brands Volkswagen Australia and Porsche Cars Australia – the first auto brands to join the Scheme.
  • The establishment of a global-first Foreign End Market Verification Program aimed at ensuring export material sent for reprocessing does not cause environmental or social harm.
  • The completion of the Used Tyres Supply Chain and Fate Analysis – the most comprehensive report to date on used tyres – which has become the national blueprint in understanding the true data associated with resource recovery; and
  • The establishment of a Whole Tyre Export Ban Baling transition program to help organisations to connect directly with relevant state authorities to navigate through approvals and growth opportunities ahead of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) ban on whole tyres, included baled tyres, from December 2021.

Significant challenge

End-of-life tyres represent a significant challenge in regional and remote Australia and local governments play a crucial role in the solution, which is why the increase of more than 15% in local government authorities joining the Scheme was another key outcome for the 2019/20 financial year for TSA.

“Local government participation is a vital step in terms of delivering the benefits of full lifecycle management of used tyres,” Goodman explained.

“Benefits include appropriate procurement and waste management of fleet tyres, to the specification of innovative tyre-derived products for improved asset delivery and management.”

However, Goodman acknowledged while significant progress had been made, she was “well aware of the challenges that remain unresolved and the shortcomings that still influence [TSA’s} course.

“If you are not engaged with us and remain happy to reap the profits offered by the tyre industry, I want to remind you that time available to you for making a voluntary and positive impact is rapidly running out and that society will offer you fewer and fewer acceptable excuses for sitting on your fence,” she warned.

TSA has also taken the opportunity to extend the study of Materials Flow Assessment of the tyre industry to cover the mining sector with an assessment of the consumption and fate of mining industry Off-The-Road tyres. Since the release of that report, TSA has begun 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.

Whilst encouraging assistance from mining corporations, Goodman noted that earth moving tyre companies must take a proactive stance.

“With only an 11 per cent recovery rate for this sector, the time to implement solutions is now. 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,” she explained.

“More participation from the sectors will result in more progress in positive outcomes. Our plans for the next financial year remain ambitious and multi-faceted. We will rely on technology, research, our ability to be heard on the global stage as well as our credibility with all legislators. It sounds simple, but it really needs participation and collaboration to successfully work.”