We love our cars – and our tyres. In fact Australians collectively wear through almost 50 million tyres each year – two for every person in the country.
So what do we do with them all? The sad fact is that, according to Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), approximately 66% of our discarded tyres (or 33 million of them) aredisposed of as landfill, stockpiled or illegally dumped each year. It’s a habit that TSA is hoping to break, with the recently-announced Tyre Product Stewardship Scheme aiming to boost the rate of recycling.
The scheme is authorised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and has received support from federal and state and territory governments. Funding is being raised with a levy of 25 cents on every new tyre sold in Australia, and tyre manufacturers involved in the program – including Continental, Goodyear-Dunlop, Michelin, Pirelli, Toyo and Yokohama – have also provided financial support.
According to Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), which is the body set up to implement the scheme, the funds will be ploughed into industry and consumer education, independent auditing designed to eradicate dirty, unsafe and illegal practices, and research and development of new uses for the recycled raw materials.
There are already a number of uses for recycled tyres; the Department of Environment advises that tyre product can be used for:
- the manufacture of new rubber products
- road construction as a constituent in asphalt roads
- surface materials such as artificial turf, sporting field and playground surfaces, and conveyor belts
- alternative fuel for industries such as producers of energy and cement, and as a substitute for diesel in explosives
- civil engineering such as embankments and lightweight fill.
A Canstar Blue New Zealand survey in August 2014 revealed that more than half of tyre purchasers would be prepared to pay a levy to assist in the environmentally friendly disposal of tyres. Hopefully Australians would follow suit.