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Shoulders to the wheel

tyre recycling

OzTyre Recyclers’ Tony Patti is hoping to turn an Australian export ban on tyres into an opportunity. With the help of Waste Initiatives, he’s put the wheels in motion for a brighter future.

As a “young bloke” Tony Patti was taught if you’re going to recycle, you should be able to take a product and recycle it into something else. Family business OzTyre Recyclers is “not there yet”, but is well on the way.

The company has set an ambitious target to be one of the first in the sector in Australia to recycle 100 per cent of used tyres and have an Australian market for the end-product. Waste Initiatives is helping it reach that target.

Waste Initiatives’ approach has always been to pair innovative Australian recyclers with the best equipment that can be sourced globally. They recognise that this often requires some creative “outside the box” solutions. Tony is pivoting the company to tyre shredding and crumbing, with the aim of providing rubber for a more diversified market such as shoe soles and gym mats.

“We want to get away from exporting rubber products,” Tony says. “We want to show the industry that it can be done. China, at the moment, is punishing Australia in many ways, so there’s a shortage of supplies that are rubber-based. Let’s make Australia self-sufficient and do recycling 100 per cent in Australia.”

While the idea to diversify has been brewing for some time, Tony says the export ban on tyres, particularly baled tyres, was the kick-start the family needed to take the next step. To get them there, Tony’s son Jaidyn found Jason Sargeant at Waste Initiatives.

Waste Initiatives has designed and supplied waste management equipment and recycling systems since 1975. OzTyre Recyclers set them a new challenge – one shredder that could do the work of two.

Jason Sargeant, Waste Initiatives Equipment Consultant – Waste Projects, says the OzTyre Recyclers shredder is a new design developed over the past two years. 

The result is a tyre shredder with an integrated rotary screen. The turnkey system includes infeed and outfeed conveyors, controlled by a main PLC control station. It’s been designed and engineered to take whole tyres down to 50mm chip, suitable for export and reuse as Tyre-Derived Fuel (TDF), and for further processing.

Jason says Waste Initiatives worked closely with Tony to get the desired outcome.

“For OzTyre Recyclers, the output size needed to be 50mm, which can be used as a Tyre-Derived Fuel and is an exportable product. But it can also be taken down to the next stages – a 25mm piece, from there a granule and crumb.

“There was some back and forth and we’ve made a few improvements here and there. Some things we custom designed. We’ve worked on tyre equipment for many years but it’s only the past couple of years, with the export ban coming, that we’re seeing a change for this equipment. There’s certain equipment we can buy in from overseas ready to go. We can tweak that, customise and tailor it to make it more cost effective.”

Tony knows others in the tyre recycling industry who are diversifying to meet export ban requirements and is pointing them in Waste Initiatives’ direction.

tyre recycling“I’m telling them if you want a machine, just ring up Jason. Waste Initiatives will be with you for the long-term. The partnership between Waste Initiatives and OzTyre Recyclers has been fantastic.

“We told Jason what we wanted and how many tyres we needed to produce an hour. He came up with a lot of different options until we have the shredder we have now.

“This is an entirely new machine and, like anything developed from scratch, there’s always going to be small modifications. 

Waste Initiatives is great for that – we come up with ideas, they implement them. It’s a partnership that talks to each other.”

And it’s a conversation that is ongoing. Tony says Waste Initiatives regularly checks in on the performance of the shredder and is “only a phone call away”.

“If we think we’ve got a problem we ring Jason. When you spend so much money on a machine, you want to take care of it today, rather than tomorrow.

“I find people like Jason are willing to talk to me and understand what I want in the machinery. That helps a lot.”

The shredder has exceeded expectations. The old baling equipment was processing 400 tyres an hour and Tony wanted an equivalent workflow with the new equipment. 

He says they’ve gone past that to 550 tyres an hour.

The success, and world market influences including a shortage of shipping containers caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, have prompted Tony to fast track the next stage of OzTyre Recyclers’ evolution.

OzTyre Recyclers has bought forward plans to install a crumbing plant and hopes to have it operational by April 2022. Jason is currently working on designs for the plant.

Unlike many tyre recyclers who are looking to sell tyre crumb to road builders, Tony is searching for a new wheelhouse.

“I’ve looked at what other areas you can use tyre crumb in,” he says. “There’s a lot of small factories and manufacturers that use actual rubber crumb. As members of Tyre Stewardship Australia, they have helped us with the local requirements and advised us what is happening with tyre recycling overseas. 

“That’s what helped us order the shredder we needed.It’s opening my eyes to what’s happening around the world in tyre recycling. This is not just something we’re doing for today, it’s something that has to be looked at for the future.”

Tyre Stewardship Australia is a product stewardship organisation that provides accreditation to tyre recyclers and collectors.  

For more information visit: wasteinitiatives.com.au/recycling-systems/tyre-recycling/

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