With our campaign and headlines in the last 12 months about illegal tyre dumps and fires, public health risks, fines, clean-up notices and prosecutions – responsible tyre stewardship is now on the agenda. Big changes are coming with tougher regulations and pressure from brands, governments and the community.
In order to address these issues, the Boomerang Alliance decided to produce Tyre Life, the first detailed guide to how the Australian tyre industry can manage tyres safely and meet high environmental and operating standards. Every hard copy of the book comes with online regulations update and management tools for collectors, recyclers, retailers, importers, distributors and fleets.
We estimate that there are now some 50 million waste tyres in our environment. Tyres are, by far, the largest single component of all the hazardous, toxic and flammable materials that enter the waste stream each year. While the costs to properly manage tyres are increasing, improper management can undercut responsible operators . Around 60% of the discounting comes by avoiding legitimate environment, safety and regulatory compliance costs.
End of Life tyres (ELTs) left in stockpiles or dumped are a primary cause for the spread and increased incidence of vector-borne diseases like Dengue Fever, Ross River Fever, Japanese Encephalitis, Chikungunya and Barmah Forest Virus. Tyres are an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Urban stockpiles have the effect of both increasing the number of breeding sites and also bring the breeding grounds closer to larger residential and workforce populations.
Tyres are problematic in landfill as well. While tyres don’t spontaneously combust, the hollow doughnut shape of a whole tyre traps oxygen and shields the fire from extinguishing agents – making a fire very difficult to manage. Buried whole, the tyres float and often cause subsidence. Even shredded ELTs create a dangerous mix. Landfill gas, mostly methane, is highly combustible and vulcanised rubber is almost impossible to extinguish.
The solution? It’s simple. Retailers and other ELTs generators need to ensure they use a licensed recycling service that is subject to regular independent audits and has a planning permit to store and process tyres.
The barrier? Some within the industry refuse to pay for a legitimate service despite the fact that the fees offered for the collection and recycling of tyres are among the lowest offered by specialist waste and recycling services.
We hope Tyre Life will accelerate the transition of the Australian tyre industry to one of the best practice industries in the world. If you are a tyre store, brand, local council, fleet owner, planning and waste consultant, miner, recycler or government agency – you need Tyre Life.
National Policy Director and Tyre Life author