News, Opinion

Wasted Space: Burning rubber and all that

Morning Sir,

Greetings from the burning rubber capital of Oceania – and no, I’m not talking about doing doughnuts in the Aston Martin around the MCG after a few martinis. No, I’m talking stockpiles of tyres – those oil-derived must-haves that keep the wheels of cars, industry, just about everything, turning.

Antipodean governments take this kind of thing very seriously. Back in the day when Britannia ruled the waves it was a case of sending off the used rubber to the nearest third-world country willing to take it in. Didn’t really matter where it ended up, as long as it wasn’t in our backyard.

Anyway, along came social responsibility and now those plans have been blown to smithereens. I don’t blame those countries for not wanting our rubbish anymore. Not only are they sick of us kicking the can (or tyre) down the road, but I think the guilt was building up for your average Ocker, too.

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What does this mean for those in the industry, you ask? What indeed. Tyres can be a messy business at the best of times. They’re an ugly commodity, with an ugly history. Those running the show down here – Tyre Stewardship Australia, the Australian Tyre Recycling Association and the federal government, championed by the popular and effervescent Trevor Evans – all seem to be on the same page.

But like Whitechapel back in the day there is an undercurrent of scallywags and scoundrels who want to make a dollar or two on the sly – sort of like sly grogging, but instead of dodgy 90 proof gin that’d blow the socks off a well-oiled booze-hound, they’re looking at literally burning rubber and damn the torpedoes, or most correctly, the environment.

Already discovered a plot by ne’er-do-wells scamming retailers out of their used spares, sticking them in a warehouse and then scarpering. How is this possible in the digital age, you ask, sir? In a time of CCTV cameras on what seems like every street corner, every citizen with a mini video recorder in their back pocket, and track and trace software, you think it would be easy to find out who these scoundrels are. Well, they’re smart. They use shell companies and cash. Yes, cash – something I haven’t used in a long time. Last time I visited my bank in the Cayman Islands they had a fit of laughter when I asked for 10 $100 bills. Wanted to hand them out to those in need on Barefoot Beach. Made me reminisce for the good old days when Oddjob and I had a run in at Fort Knox – good solid, hard, moolah. Mind you we are talking gold back then.

I certainly look forward to seeing how the industry will handle the new normal.