Tyrecycle CEO Jim Fairweather with team members at the Somerton tyre recycling plant

Tyrecycle rips tyre issues to shreds

With new partnerships in place and market growth on the horizon, Tyrecycle CEO Jim Fairweather talks about the company’s direction and his aspirations for the tyre recycling sector.

When Tyrecyle announced a partnership with Barwick’s Landscapes to recycle Tasmania’s scrap tyres this past August, it was met with a mixture of relief and hope from locals and environmentalists.

Tasmania has one of Australia’s largest stockpiles of end-of-life tyres (ELTs) at Longford – estimated at about 800,000 – a problem compounded by a lack of practical tyre recycling options in the state.

As Australia’s leading tyre recycler, and with the country’s largest crumbing plant across the Bass Strait at Melbourne, Tyrecycle was to many the logical option to step in and use its expertise and equipment to help with the problem.

The joint venture has seen Barwick’s invest $1.5 million for a purpose-
built facility at Bridgewater, where it undertakes primary shredding of tyres collected from its 12 retail sites.

The material is then transported to the Tyrecycle facility in Melbourne for processing towards use in fuel, civil engineering materials, building and automotive products and other rubber surfaces.

For Jim Fairweather, Tyrecycle’s CEO, it was a pragmatic and environmentally sound business decision – both characteristics of the business he runs.

“When I started working at ResourceCo, Tyrecycle’s parent company, I saw this amazing blend
 of solid commercial acumen with sustainability and caring for our environment. It excited me,” Jim says. “Tyrecycle plays a critical role in the management of Australia’s end-of-life tyres. It is incumbent on us not only to do things right, but also to do the right thing.”

In a previous role, Jim worked in a disposable packaging business, which had opened his eyes to the importance of better managing resources.

After a number of leadership roles across a variety of sectors, Jim joined ResourceCo about five years ago, originally as Sales and Marketing Director.

The organisation now processes over two million tonnes of waste a year and is one of the leading resource recovery groups in Australia.

“Being in a recycling business at that level, you see what the commercial drivers are. It taught me that recycling businesses must be manufacturers first and recyclers second,” Jim asserts. “Idealistic recycling businesses don’t work because they’re not sustainable. You have to find a way to make products out of the waste stream you are collecting with a genuine market, then you generate the environmental benefits.”

After gaining a thorough grounding in ResourceCo, which bought Tyrecycle in 2012, just under three years ago, Jim was asked to take over as its Chief Executive.

Jim says his role has evolved over his time in post. When he started, he had some work to do in re- establishing Tyrecycle as a thought leader in the industry, as well as embedding a customer-centric state of mind within the business.

“If we’re making a decision that doesn’t help our customer, then we don’t make it,” Jim says.

A wholly-successful trinity

Tyrecycle effectively runs across three business areas: collections, manufacturing and processing, and sales for tyre derived fuel (TDF) and other products.

The company currently has strategic partnerships in place with more than 1,000 tyre retailers across Australia to source ELTs. These include the country’s well-known stockists, such as Bridgestone, from whom it has handled more than 106,000 tonnes of scrap tyres alone over the course of the relationship.

To read more, see page 12 of Issue 9.