Creating new value: Tyre Stewardship Australia

With a new authorisation from the competition regulator, Tyre Stewardship Australia is taking a fresh focus to the application of tyre-derived products, while increasing its networks with local government, fleet managers and car and tyre importers.

When Dale Gilson reflects on his role at Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), he considers the sense of urgency that surrounds the problem of end-of-life tyres. Dale joined the organisation as Chief Executive Officer at the beginning of 2017 and brought with him an extensive background in the automotive industry, with CEO positions at the Society of Automotive Engineers – Australasia, Motorcycling Australia, Speedway Australia and Four Wheel Drive Victoria.

“What these experiences have highlighted for me is the need for the Tyre Stewardship Scheme. Because I’ve been involved in motorsport and worked with automotive engineers, I’ve seen the scale of just how many tyres these industries are using,” Dale says.

He says he was able to see first-hand the challenge the nation faced.

“It’s given me a heightened awareness and understanding that end-of-life tyres are a significant issue and will continue to be. Even with the Teslas of the world creating vehicles with amazing new technologies such as electric vehicles, there will still be a significant need for tyres. Added to that is continuing population growth, which means one thing – that there will be an increasing number of tyres in use.”

This growth in end-of-life tyre generation is highlighted by the National Market Development Strategy for Used Tyres 2017-2022, which indicates new tyre sales are forecast to exceed 63.3 million equivalent passenger units by 2024, up from the current 56 million tyres in 2015-16.

TSA has significantly expanded its team since it began in 2013.

TSA’s goal is to reduce the environmental, health and safety impacts of the currently 56 million equivalent passenger units which reach their end-of-life in Australia each year. The organisation formed in 2014 after the Australian Tyre Industry Council applied to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to establish a national Tyre Stewardship Scheme. The ACCC authorised the application in 2013 and agreed that it would be administered by a new organisation, known as Tyre Stewardship Australia. In January 2014, TSA officially formed. When it commenced, a range of major tyre manufacturers backed its establishment, including Michelin, Goodyear & Dunlop, Pirelli, Yokohama, Toyo and Continental. Those brands were later joined by Bridgestone and Kumho.

The scheme is funded through a levy of 25 cents per equivalent passenger unit (standard passenger car tyres, known as EPUs) on the importation of new tyres by voluntary member companies of the scheme.

TSA’s key investment mechanism is the Tyre Stewardship Research Fund, which helps fund research and development (R&D) to find end markets for end-of-life tyres. Since 2015, more than $3 million has been committed to R&D projects across civil engineering, road and rail construction and thermal applications.

Five years of significant achievements in market development, education and awareness, accreditation and compliance and government stakeholder collaboration has compelled the organisation to re-evaluate its priorities, as it underwent a reauthorisation from the ACCC.

In May, the ACCC announced it will grant TSA’s Tyre Stewardship Scheme a new authorisation for a further six years. In reaching its determination, the ACCC considered the progress of the voluntary scheme and the impact TSA has been able to make in educating the tyre industry and consumers on the need to manage the nation’s end-of-life tyres.

GREATER FLEXIBILITY

Dale says the amendments in the reauthorisation, namely increased flexibility to the structure of its funds program, will enable TSA to more effectively realise the desired outcomes of its Tyre Stewardship Scheme.

“Originally, we were only able to fund research and development. This flexibility means the fund can now be used on a larger scale, including the ability to support infrastructure and its commercialisation,” he says.

What that means is TSA can look at a broader picture when considering projects to support.

“It allows us to look at how a project helps to create opportunities for more sustainable management of end-of-life tyres. In effect, we can look to assist numerous levels of the disposal to final use of tyre-derived product chain. What will remain the same is that each project is carefully considered on its merits,” Dale adds.

ACCOUNTABILITY

TSA has significantly expanded its team since it began in 2013.

Increased capabilities for managing non-compliance is also a key facet of the reauthorisation. Dale says the ability to suspend those not fulfilling their obligations to the scheme will ensure every participant of TSA is able to make a significant contribution to the Tyre Stewardship Scheme in the long run. He adds that TSA is about promoting inclusion, but this does come with expectations of maintaining compliance with the scheme.

“Previously, we only had a 12-month revocation option for those not fulfilling their obligations,” he says.

He says the issue with the limited scope of the compliance measures was that participants could rectify their obligations in a shorter period than the revocation measures afforded to TSA. For example, retailers are asked to report monthly on the number of tyres recycled and collected, in addition to reviewing their arrangements regularly with a TSA-accredited stakeholder, according to a voluntary action plan sample.

“We can now suspend those not complying for a shorter period and once they’re complying we can bring them back into the scheme,” Dale says.

In addition to its strong member base of tyre importers, TSA is also backed by the Australian Tyre Recyclers Association, the Motor Trades Association of Australia and Tyrepower.

As it moves towards the next phase of its reauthorisation, a key focus will be to broaden the scope of its participants to include more car and truck importers, vehicle service centres and fleets.

“We’re getting a number of car dealerships approaching us and wanting to be part of the Tyre Stewardship Scheme, so we’re hoping that interest will go up the chain to a point where organisations such as Toyota or Ford will join the scheme,” Dale says.

“The levy measure is still effective in providing a financial commitment from members, without substantially affecting consumers. Our focus is to increase the membership base of car and tyre importers within the scheme to help support the R&D and infrastructure market development fund.”

Dale says major fleet operators such as the Department of Defence and Australia Post have already joined the scheme, with more major corporations expected.

HIGH ON THE UPTAKE

The progress in research and development leads Dale into a discussion of TSA’s next phase, supported by five strategic objectives from the National Market Development Strategy for Used Tyres 2017-2022. To implement the strategy, TSA recently appointed experienced product stewardship manager Jan van de Graaff as its Business Relationship Manager.

The first objective is to support the development of the Australian end-of-life tyre sector through a focus on products rather than considering the materials as waste.

The second is to address the barriers in key tyre-derived products (TDP), comprising early stage research for projects with national reach, support for emerging markets such as crumb rubber mining explosives and greater links to sustainable procurement and rating tools.

Likewise, the third objective, to develop the markets for TDP in road construction, will focus on increased uptake of spray seals in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia and a national program to address barriers impacting crumb rubber asphalt.

The fourth object highlights a plan to research the long-term markets for TDP in rail construction through an ongoing market entry program with key industry and government programs and a focus on rail maintenance and new rail construction.

The final objective sees new markets being developed for TDP in civil construction, with a plan to establish a national steering committee with a focus on tyre-derived aggregate, early stage research and lab testing for this and the development of national specifications for key markets.

Overall, it supports a goal for consistent growth across the domestic recovery of end-of-life tyres and contributing to a future where stockpiling of these tyres does not occur.

R&D GROWTH CONTINUES

TSA is working with the Australian Asphalt Pavement Association (AAPA), which provides research and training to support innovation in the road sector – ensuring recycled tyres can be used to increase the flexibility and durability of Australian roads. This aims to provide local and state government with long-term cost benefits.

“The City of Mitcham in South Australia is currently undertaking laboratory and field testing to further validate the measurable benefits in performance and asset life for crumb rubber asphalt in highly expansive soils compared to conventional mixes. The data we gain from this research will help us broaden the use of this material for other local government regions,” Dale says.

AAPA recently undertook a joint trial with TSA of crumb rubber modified binder in asphalt, which is made using scrap tyres to boost the properties of bitumen. Crumb rubber modified binder has not been widely deployed in asphalt applications and historically has primarily been used for sealing roads.

Crumb rubber modified binder aims to increase the elastic properties of asphalt and spray sealed road surfacing and boost its durability. A crumb rubber binder trial took place in 2017 to study its durability on the roads and whether there were more emissions emerging during installation than conventional polymer modified binders. The trial investigated the use of crumb rubber modified binder in open graded asphalt in Queensland and found that the emissions from crumb rubber were similar to asphalt used with conventional binders. It also showed that producing the product at a low temperature could help lower carbon dioxide emissions.

TSA is working with the Australian Road Research Board Queensland, Transport and Main Roads Queensland and the Department of Environment and Heritage Queensland to update the specifications to include open graded asphalt, with a plan to apply this nationwide via AustRoads.

Liam O’Keefe, Market Development Manager at TSA, says the organisation is also looking at gap graded, along with open graded specifications, which can account for about 10 per cent of the available feedstock of tyres being used productively in roads.

Liam also cites Geelong-based manufacturer Polymeric Powders and Austeng as an example of innovation in the space of using TDP in civil engineering.

The company was initially provided with funding in 2016 to develop and test a new injection moulded tyre rubber and plastics composite pellet product for oil and gas, irrigation and sewerage pipes. The technology converts rubber into an activated powder that can be chemically bonded with polyolefin plastic and successfully passed stringent standard performance tests.

“Once we proved conceptually it could work through initial funding, we then co-funded them for more than $200,000 for the setup to manufacture that as a product in Geelong with co-funding from Sustainability Victoria,” Liam says.

Sustainability Victoria, through its Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund, provided $121,000 for the project, with Polymeric Powders now looking at the production of tyre crumb derived composite material from end-of-life tyres for use in the large volume irrigation and sewerage pipe markets.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT NETWORKS

As the new Business Relationship Manager, Jan will also play a key role in TSA’s increasing role with local government. He will work with councils to help them in the procurement of recycled end-of-life tyres in roads and permeable paving as examples, and assist them in their tenders.

Jade Barnaby, TSA’s Accreditation and Compliance Manager, will also do more work with downstream vendors to ensure the end destination of exported tyres is going to an environmentally sound use.

Overall, Dale is inspired by the growth in the organisation, with participants in the Tyre Stewardship Scheme rising by more than 500 over the past two years to more than 1500.

“The recognition and acceptance from the tyre industry of the role TSA plays, and consumer awareness, has changed significantly in my 17 months to now and that is largely thanks to our initiatives such as the Green Tyre Project,” Dale says.

“Seeing us go from a fund basically at commencement a couple of years ago to now have $3 million worth of R&D shows we’ve come a long way.

This article was published in the August issue of Waste Management Review.