Recycling industry calls for national action on used tyres
An upcoming meeting between the state and federal environment ministers is the ideal opportunity to facilitate a discussion about recycling and to take steps to develop a national integrated strategy to deal with Australia’s used tyre stockpiles, says the CEO of the Australian Council of Recycling, Grant Musgrove.
“While individual state governments have taken different approaches, we still have tyre stockpiles all over the country. Some of these are simply dumped, while others are stockpiles of shredded tyres, but stockpiles nonetheless,” Musgrove says.
Used tyres actually have solid second-life uses. “Tyres have a very high calorific value and are an excellent source of energy for cement kilns,” Musgrove explains. He points out that they can also be used in crumb rubber asphalt for our roads.
However, regardless of the end use of tyres, a strong market development strategy is required, Musgrove says. Tyre stockpiles are detrimental to the environment and pose a major fire risk to the surroundings and the local community. Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) manager, Daniel Hunt, says, “Tyre fires cause pollution of the atmosphere and are incredibly difficult to extinguish. Once ignited, they are hard to control and generate hazardous smoke that can cause a health risk to the community.”
Musgrove states, “It’s time for ministers to act collectively before we have a catastrophic tyre fire, beyond the capacity of our water supply and fire agencies to extinguish in any reasonable time.
“The current approaches by different jurisdictions would be greatly strengthened by a nationwide framework to ensure obligations and compliance requirements across states and territories,” Musgrove says.
He points out that other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries have appropriate Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in place an now it is time for Australia to follow. “Voluntary approaches to EPR can be hindered by the failure to progress beyond business as usual, regulatory capture, poor monitoring, free-riding and transaction costs. Tyres are the second most material subject to product stewardship in the OECD, after e-waste; and only national tyre regulation will be the most suitable regulation option for Australia,” says Musgrove.
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