A new cycle: Tyrecycle

Australian tyre recycler Tyrecycle is hoping to play an expanded role in the clean-up of legacy end-of-life tyre stockpiles across Australia through the expansion of its collection and processing capabilities.

With a national footprint of tyre-derived shredding and chipping plants across the country, Tyrecycle is the only EPA licenced tyre recycler in Victoria.

Australia currently produces around 56 million tyres each year, with Tyrecycle playing a pivotal role in reducing the environmental, economic and social impact of those end-of-life tyres.

In 2017, the company worked with EPA Victoria to clean up a stockpile in excess of a million tyres on the outskirts of Victoria in Stawell. The operation saw the collection of 1.1 million equivalent passenger units. 

Since then, the company has further enhanced its collection and processing capacity at its Somerton site and is looking further afield in taking on clean-up jobs across the country, with all materials processed within 24 hours of reaching Tyrecycle’s plant.

Clinton Habner, Tyrecycle National Sales Manager, says a recent project in Wedderburn in Victoria’s north saw the collection of 860 tonnes of tyres in under a month – equating to 100,000 equivalent passenger units.

Clinton explains that the tyres had been stockpiled after being removed from gullies and creek beds where they’d previously been used as part of a water erosion scheme in the 1980s.

“This is an example of the demand we’re seeing for responsible clean-up and removal of tyres from the environment, thereby eliminating any fire risk,” Clinton says. 

“The Wedderburn project was done in collaboration with VicWater, the peak industry association for water businesses in Victoria and was a great example of industry and government partnering to deliver a win/win outcome for everyone and, in particular, the community.” 

“The Stawell project demonstrated our capabilities in delivering safe, ethical and environmentally sound outcomes and I think that really gave assurance to VicWater that we were the right partner.”

Clinton says Tyrecycle provided flexibility in its transport fleet, scheduling and collection with two to three trucks committed each day to ensure the tyres were cleaned up in a timely manner.

The tyres were then processed immediately upon arrival at Tyrecycle’s Somerton site, including cleaning and shredding and/or crumbing. The shredded passenger tyres will be exported as tyre-derived fuel for use in cement kilns or in purpose-built power generation plants. 

Clinton says Tyrecycle is continuing to invest in improved infrastructure and capital projects, looking to broaden its capability so it can tackle even more challenging remediation projects in an increasingly efficient way.

He says Tyrecycle is committed to doing what it can help reduce the impact of stockpiled end-of-life tyres.

“We’re focused on working in partnership with government and the community to identify and enact solutions to these legacy stockpiles through an end-to-end chain
of responsibility.”

“We can tell customers how many tonnes were taken, what they paid and how they met their obligations in line with ethical use,” Clinton says.

Tyrecycle is also working to developing new end markets for the tyres, not just at an international level but also within the domestic sphere.

As well as producing tyre-derived fuel from passenger tyres, the company also recycles truck tyres into rubber crumb and granules for use in roads, playgrounds, sporting fields and civil engineering applications. 

What Tyrecycle would like to see is an end to tyres being whole-baled for export – a position supported by the Australian Tyre Recyclers Association due to the biosecurity and safety risks.

Clinton says that by relying on a commoditised price, it only leaves these rogue operators vulnerable to stockpiling once the prices falls.

“What we really hope is we get the market structure and regulatory frameworks right. This will create an even playing field in the market and force rogue operators to comply with environmental and safety controls. 

“In turn, this will give consumers peace of mind that when they leave their scrap tyres with a retailer they will be handled appropriately, not end up in in a pyrolysis kiln in an in ill-fated Asian country with poor emission controls. Currently, that is not always the case.”