The greening of waste tyre disposal

May 13, 2008 at 9:00 am 1 comment

Did you know that it has been estimated that around 18 million waste tyres (measured in equivalent passenger units) are generated in Australia each year?. Whilst disposal or re-use of waste tyres varies greatly between States and Territories nationally, it is estimated that about 57% of waste tyres go to landfill and 13% are disposed of inappropriately through illegal dumping.

The US, EU and Japan, which recycle 80% of their end of life tyres. Compare this to Australia’s 20-25%. However, plans are afoot to change this.

The Environment Protection and Heritage Council together with tyre producers and recyclers through the Australian Tyre Industry Council have been looking at the disposal of tyres for a while – in particular developing a draft Tyre Product Stewardship Agreement . The draft Agreement, released this month, is open for public comment for two months.

Product Stewardship is the idea that companies need to share responsibility for reducing the impact of products on the environment over their total life cycle. For many companies this represents a big shift in the way that they think. It means doing more than simply ensuring that their manufacturing and distribution operations have minimal impacts on the environment. It also requires them to look at the impacts of their supply chain, and to work closely with suppliers to implement environmental improvement programs. It also requires them to design products which use materials and energy as efficiently as possible, avoid use of toxic or hazardous substances, and which are recoverable at end-of-life.

Most of the Australian tyre producers and recyclers have been supportive of this voluntary Product Stewardship scheme which has objectives to substantially reduce tyres going to landfill, reduce the health and environmental risks of inappropriate disposal and increase resource recovery for end- of-life tyres (90% in ten years). Understandably, their concern has been that by doing the “right thing” they may be at a competitive disadvantage with those that do not .

Enter a draft proposal to underpin an Agreement with a regulatory “safety-net”- the National Environmental Protection (Tyres) Measure – whereby government regulates those who are unwilling to participate in the voluntary industry self regulated scheme. This would ensure that all businesses dealing in the targeted products achieve at least the same environmental outcomes. This two prong approach of voluntary industry agreement underpinned with government regulation is known as co-regulation.

Also out this month, is an impact statement issued by the Environment Protection and Heritage Council on such a regulatory measure . The impact statement is also open for public consultation for two months.

If you want a say in this process, now is the time.

Entry filed under: Environment, Tyre Industry. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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