Negligent regulations need to be addressed to stop unscrupulous operators. Tyre Stewardship Australia CEO Lina Goodman explains.
Suggestions that shortcomings of the Tyre Product Stewardship Scheme were resulting in the potentially hazardous stockpiling of tyres in Queensland were misinformed and “simply nonsense,” according to Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) CEO Lina Goodman.
Responding to the recent public exposure of a tyre stockpile in Brisbane, Goodman attributed the negligent change of storage regulations during the former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman Government’s tenure as the reason for the stockpiling.
In September this year, Assistant Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Minister Trevor Evans described the stockpile as a “ticking time bomb” and called on the Queensland Government to shut it down.
“My understanding is that absolutely nothing has happened on this site or to the people involved for at least the last year, and that’s completely unacceptable,” Evans said.
“It should be priority number one for the Queensland Environment Department and the State Government to get in and shut it down immediately.”
Goodman acknowledges that the economic impact of COVID-19 on the Australian economy had led to an increase in collection pitfalls.
“Unscrupulous operators are always emerging in aspects of the waste industry, offering cheaper prices with no care for how they dispose of the waste, nor the environmental nor human health impacts,” Goodman says.
“We are at a critical juncture in terms of Australians taking responsibility for our own waste and using this resource to instead create jobs, spark innovation and deliver strong environmental outcomes.
“We need tyre retailers to be more vigilant than ever on who they choose to work with and how their end-of-life tyres are being managed.”
Goodman’s sentiments are mirrored by multiple waste industry stakeholders, with Waste Recycling Industry Queensland CEO Mark Smith highlighting that the stockpile not only posed a potential fire risk, but undermined the integrity of good operators who make up the bulk of the sector.
TSA and Waste Recycling Industry Queensland are now working on a project to examine the scale of unlicenced activity within the scrap metal industry.
Goodman stresses, however, that the time for finger-pointing and laying blame is over.
“With the Council of Australian Governments’ waste export ban on whole used tyres coming into effect next year, now is the time for a more unified approach to the nation’s waste challenge – not division,” she says.
Goodman does acknowledge that as a voluntary organisation, TSA faces challenges.
“TSA remains exposed to free-riders and external forces that undermine our objectives and those of the scheme and the Product Stewardship Act,” she says.
“But that is not to say TSA is just sitting on its hands.
“We are working tirelessly to ensure the effectiveness of our accreditation and compliance program to verify the end uses of end-of-life tyres both domestically and internationally.”
TSA is collaborating with national regulators on an operational level regarding compliance issues and contributing to legislative changes and updates, Goodman explains. She adds that TSA is well placed to communicate proposed or new legislative updates to its 1700 participants.
“We also escalate awareness of unscrupulous operators to our participants and warn of the dangers of engaging with non-TSA accredited organisations,” Goodman says.
“We established an Industry Consultative Group, engaging stakeholders from all aspects of the tyre industry to work collaboratively on the issues, challenges and solutions for our industry.”
Furthermore, TSA has invested nearly $6 million in innovative market development research and demonstration projects that utilise Australian tyre derived products.
“We are now starting to see the positive tangible outcomes from these investments and the increased use of crumb rubber in a multitude of sectors and applications, in particular the road sector,” Goodman says.
“It is clear however that TSA, like other product stewardship organisations and waste and recycling associations, does not have the power to shut down organisations that stockpile. This lies solely with government regulation and enforcement.”
To address this, Goodman says a collaborative approach is needed, whereby regulators, governments, industry associations and retailers work together to tackle the environmental and health challenges created by mismanagement of end-of-life tyres.
“Moving the tyre stewardship scheme to a co-regulatory or mandatory approach under the Act will ensure greater economy-wide participation, increased local recovery and recycling and market development opportunities that encourage investment within Australia,” she says.
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