Boosting tyre supply chain visibility: Tyre Stewardship Australia

Lina Goodman, Tyre Stewardship Australia CEO, speaks with Waste Management Review about its world-first foreign end market verification program that will significantly increase waste tyre supply chain visibility in local and international markets.

When Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) was formed in 2014, its initial guidelines called for market development activities to focus on early stage research and development.

One year later, TSA launched its key investment mechanism, the Tyre Stewardship Research Fund.

In an ever-evolving space, the fund has to date directed $4.9 million to 34 research and development projects.

As TSA’s goal is to reduce the environmental, health and safety impacts of the 56 million equivalent passenger units generated annually, it’s an agenda the voluntary product stewardship scheme does not take lightly.

With research and development into tyre-derived product well and truly proven, TSA needed to change tack, enhancing its strategic focus as it underwent Australian Competition and Consumer Commission reauthorisation.

Last year, it broadened the original guidelines of its Tyre Stewardship Scheme, allowing it to drive a more immediate consumption of Australian generated tyre-derived product.

In doing so, TSA launched a demonstration and infrastructure stream, which proved to revolutionise its existing remit through practical outcomes, approving new products consuming almost a million tyres per year.

The stream ensures TSA can support an array of sectors, including in roads, advanced manufacturing, civil infrastructure, rail, building construction and more.

It generated an additional $3.2 million in new sales for the Australian recycling market annually, but importantly led to critical sustainable outcomes.

One of these many projects was the announcement of a test of new mixes of crumb rubber asphalt on a 335-metre stretch of road in the South Australian City of Mitcham.

In another innovative initiative, the Victorian Department of Transport is now conducting the first large-scale crumb rubber asphalt trial on an arterial road, in a two-year trial with the Australian Road Research Board.

To support TSA’s next evolution, TSA also welcomed a new CEO in Lina Goodman, who brings extensive experience in delivering commercial and environmental outcomes.

Mahdi Disfani, Lina Goodman and Heather Holmes-Ross test crumb rubber asphalt in the City of Mitcham.

Lina’s breadth of experience comes as a paradigm shift is occurring in the waste sector, with increased commitments from federal, state, territory and local governments to procure recycled materials, including in major road projects.

She joined TSA in January 2019 after a long career in sustainability including roles at VISY, Honeywell and TIC Group.

To that end, she tells Waste Management Review auditing and verifying downstream international venders is one of TSA’s current focuses.

“With a significant volume of Australian end-of-life tyres exported for processing in foreign end markets, verifying environmentally sustainable and ethical management of exported tyres is central to the integrity of the Tyre Stewardship Scheme,” Lina says.

In 2018/19, Australia produced 450,569 tonnes of tyre waste. Over this time, approximately 43 per cent of all end-of-life tyres were exported as either casings, tyre-derived fuel shred, baled whole, or off-the-road tyres exported for crumbing, with the largest portion being shred at 29 per cent.

Given the scale of exports and well-known consequences of unsustainable management, TSA has developed a world-first foreign end market verification program for end-of-life tyres.

Despite an international ban on whole baled tyres in the works, verifications of final destinations is paramount, as tyre products are still sent offshore for further processing.

“We are taking new steps and are a lot more agile, dynamic and creative about how we want to function in the industry and wider marketplace. I like to call it next generation TSA,” Lina says.

“Our aim is to support initiatives that bring together strong partnerships across the supply chain, crossing research institutions and industry partners, to demonstrate both the technical and financial viability of products.”

DOWNSTREAM VERIFICATION

In 2019, TSA engaged third-party quality assurance company Intertek to develop a platform and process to audit downstream vendor behaviour. According to Lina, the program will verify sustainable outcomes, ensure exporting processor accountability and educate operators both domestically and offshore.

“Intertek audits the sites based on a set of criteria including modern slavery, occupational health and safety, technology and hub and spoke,” Lina says.

“In terms of technology, auditors assess whether the technology is fit for purpose, and with hub and spoke they ensure the material is being processed at the collection site and not transferred to other unverified locations.”

During the first round of audits, there were some issues to work through. One of these saw Intertek identify staff working inside buildings that were locked from the outside, which created a fire hazard.

“We also came across sites engaged in environmentally unsound practices, and some that wouldn’t allow our auditor to enter,” Lina says.

“In that instance, the auditor took photos around the perimeter of the site and spoke to people living and working in the area – it’s quite an investigative process.”

Under the verification program, for foreign end-markets to accept material from TSA accredited participants, they too require will TSA verification.

To receive verification, Lina says operators first run through an education program to understand TSA’s expectations. From there, operators conduct self-assessment questionnaires, providing photographs and procedural details.

“Intertek and TSA will then verify that information, and if we identify any red flags, we will send an auditor to the site,” Lina says.

“The whole idea is to ensure overseas operators are not causing any environmental or social harm. That’s the bottom line.”

According to Lina, TSA has recently conducted a number of audits in Malaysia and India, with many ticking all the relevant boxes.

“The program enables us to ensure the material is being recycled in an appropriate manner, and also guarantees that Australian recyclers are informed about where they are sending their material,” she says.

“We need greater overall visibility of the reverse supply chain of waste tyres. We can’t really be sure that materials are being appropriately managed if we don’t have them verified by a third-party organisation.”

In addition to the downstream verification process, Lina says TSA is enhancing its international relationships through associations with groups such as the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG).

The IRSG is an inter-governmental organisation comprising rubber producing and consuming stakeholders, with 36 member countries and over 100 members covering the entire natural and synthetic rubber value chain.

“The IRSG has traditionally worked within the new tyre and rubber segment of the market,” Lina says.

“However, they recently recognised the need to include sustainability and end-of-life tyres into their discourse.”

As part of the partnership, TSA is hoping to join the IRSG’s sustainability committee, which Lina says will help facilitate connections with international governments.

“Joining the IRSG will create a direct line to governments in places that currently receive our material, such as Cameroon and India,” Lina says.

SUSTAINABLE OUTCOMES

To facilitate greater market transparency, TSA is also working on a new suitable outcomes indicator, which Lina says models the good, better and best of tyre recycling.

“One recycler is not the same as another recycler, there are various levels of measurable environmental outcomes,” she says.

Lina says TSA has begun identifying its participants against good, better and best outcomes, with recyclers judged on process, and retailers judged on their choice of recycler.

“We have thousands of consumers who visit our green tyres website and want to do the right thing for end-of-life tyres. They ask, who can I buy tyres from? Who provides sustainable outcomes?” Lina explains.

“We really need to shine a light on organisations that have invested locally and are making an effort to transform tyres into products for local use, and I think the sustainable outcomes indicator will help that.”

EXPORT BAN AND THE PSA

The recent Meeting of Environment Minister’s confirmed a phased approach timeline for the ban on waste exports, as announced by the Australian Council of Government’s (COAG) earlier this year.

All whole tyres, including baled tyres, will be banned from export by December 2021. While Lina says whole tyres represent only a small percentage of what is exported, TSA is supportive of government putting regulatory levers in place.

“Of the 223,000 tonnes of end-of-life tyres recovered in 2018/19, 84 per cent was exported and 16 per cent remained in Australia for use within local applications. Of the volume exported, 25 per cent was whole-baled tyres and 68 per cent was exported as shred,” she says.

“That said, the ban has led to increased conversation locally about investment in new facilities and upgrades, and because of the ban, the market conditions are now right.”

Lina adds however that for the ban to really change the state of end-of-life tyre processing, it needs to come hand in hand with a strengthened Product Stewardship Act.

“It’s wonderful to have the COAG statement, but we need the act reviewed to provide us with more opportunity for market development and to keep all tyre importers accountable for the products they bring into the country, not just a select few,” she says.

“We are a voluntary scheme – we have eight tyre importers now contributing to the levy and one automotive brand, but we really need all of them participating.”

While questions remain over the long-awaited Product Stewardship Act review’s outcomes, Lina says she is heartened by the progress made by TSA over the past 12 months.

“If the Product Stewardship Act review can address the issue of free riders, or as I have heard them to referred to as “environmental pirates”, we will have more funds to redirect to organisations that want to address end-of-life tyres commercially,” she says.

“That said, there is already a whole range of support programs in place. We are excited by the opportunities that will arise from the export ban and our market development strategy, which is already delivering significant outcomes. The next generation of TSA is looking bright.”

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SA councils take part in crumb rubber trial

At least six South Australian councils have agreed to take part in a trial using crumb rubber derived from end-of-life truck tyres.

With funding from Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), a special gap graded asphalt modified with crumb rubber will replace regular asphalt on a number of roads.

The trial involves TSA, Topcoat Asphalt and the cities of Mitcham, Port Adelaide Enfield, Campbelltown, West Torrens, Onkaparinga and Salisbury. The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure will provide technical advice.

TSA CEO Lina Goodman said the trial is the largest of its type conducted in Australia.

“These councils are playing a vital role in finding modern and environmentally sound solutions to a problematic waste problem,” Ms Goodman said.

“South Australian councils are leading the way by embracing this landmark opportunity in the development of the circular economy in Australia.”

According to a TSA statement, the equivalent of 29 million passenger tyres are up-cycled, recycled or processed locally for productive uses such as roads, playgrounds, polymers and tyre-derived fuels each year.

“But, over 27 million passenger tyres in Australia are not being recycled. These often end up in landfill, stockpiles or are exported overseas,” the statement reads.

The trial will use the equivalent of roughly 3400 passenger vehicle tyres or more than 20,000 kilograms of crumb rubber. Each of the six sites will use what equates to 566 passenger tyres.

Topcoat Asphalt will mix the crumb rubber into a special high-grade mix, which according to the statement, has a high rubber ratio.

“A similar trial was conducted earlier this year on a small section of road in the City of Mitcham which is so far showing positive results,” the statement reads.

“However, this larger trial will use a higher proportion of crumb rubber.”

Each trial site will consist of two adjacent road sections. One 200 metre section will contain the high- grade mix and the other will be normal asphalt.

The roads will be tested for resistance to rutting, susceptibility to cracking and moisture damage over a minimum of two years.

TopCoat Asphalt Technical Manager Rod McArthur said testing in other countries shows crumb rubber from old tyres works well, or even outperforms, regular asphalt.

“This trial is about proving that the product works just as well here in South Australia, using the tried and tested Californian technology, without having to reinvent the wheel,” Mr McArthur said.

City of Mitcham Principal Engineer Russel King said he believes more councils and other levels of government should be using crumb rubber technology in their roads.

“We have shown through our trial that it improves the performance of roads due to less cracking and it increases the life span,” Mr King said.

Ms Goodman said using crumb rubber is a win-win for the rate payer and the environment.

“It’s time we saw old tyres as a valuable product that can be used to make roads last longer all around Australia,” Ms Goodman said.

“The recent COAG announcement banning the export of old tyres is another reason governments should embrace this technology.”

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TyreStock win sustainability awards

Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) has congratulated Queensland online tyre retailer, TyreStock, for winning a highly respected business award.

TyreStock was announced the winner of the Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Yurika Environmental Sustainability in Business Award at a ceremony in Brisbane on Friday night.

TSA Chief Executive Officer Lina Goodman said TSA was thrilled to see such an innovative business win this award.

“TyreStock is committed to ensuring waste tyres don’t end up in landfill or stockpiled and the award shows that this message is also important to the community and leaders,” Ms Goodman said.

TyreStock promises its customers that their old tyres will end up at Australian recycling plants and it has a tracking system to ensure this. It is also committed to donating some of its profits to charities helping children and families in developing countries.

The small start-up managed to beat some established organisations like Brisbane Airport Corporation and the University of Queensland.

TyreStock CEO William Amiot said the company was pleasantly surprised to win the award.

“It’s overwhelming that Brisbane City Council recognises our mission and embraces the vision we have for our industry,” Mr Amiot said.

TyreStock is influencing how Australia’s waste tyres are dealt with through its participation in the Tyre Stewardship Scheme.

TSA’s voluntary scheme has to date supported the creation of more markets for tyre-derived products like equine tracks, roads and permeable paving.

It has thus far committed five million dollars to the development of sustainable end markets for tyre-derived products within Australia.

Pictured: Brisbane City Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner, presenting TyreStock Co-Founders William Amiot and Elodie Desporte-Duperry with their Yurika Environmental Sustainability in Business Award.

TSA and ARRB trial crumb rubber asphalt

A crumb rubber asphalt trial will soon begin in Melbourne, with funding from Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) and the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB).

According to TSA CEO Lina Goodman, while crumb rubber is routinely used in rural road surfacing in Victoria, more testing is needed on highly trafficked roads.

“The aim of this project is to increase the opportunity to use crumb rubber in metropolitan roads,” Ms Goodman said.

“This trial is a landmark opportunity in the development of the circular economy in Australia.”

ARRB will trial a range of asphalt mixes and monitor performance over time.

ARRB Senior Professional Leader Melissa Lyons said the trial is a first of its kind in regard to scale and number of testing mixes.

“ARRB is proud to be a supporting partner of this project, which is about finding sustainable solutions to Australia’s tyre problem,” Ms Lyons said.

The crumb rubber asphalt will be laid on a 1.5 kilometre southbound East Boundary Road carriageway, between Centre Road and South Road in Bentleigh East.

Lab and field testing will be conducted at regular intervals, with a final report due by mid 2022.

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TSA partners with reporting app to monitor stockpiles

Tyre Stewardship Australia has partnered with Snap Send Solve to enable simple public reporting of local tyre stockpiles or dumping hotspots.

Snap Send Solve is a digital platform that facilitates the identification of local issues such as illegal waste dumping and broken infrastructure.

Snap Send Solve CEO Danny Gorog said users capture photos on their smartphones, and the app notifies relevant authorities.

“Now users can easily report not just rubbish, but more specifically dumped or stockpiled waste tyres,” Mr Gorog said.

“The reports will be provided to the relevant council for resolution, as well as Tyre Stewardship Australia, who will monitor hotspots and communicate directly with tyre retailers, state and local authorities to stamp out poor behaviour.”

Tyre Stewardship Australia CEO Lina Goodman said the free smartphone app will help monitor where waste tyres are being dumped or stockpiled.

“If you see some dumped waste tyres or what you suspect is a stockpile, simply snap a photo and send a report using the app,” Ms Goodman said.

“The appropriate authority can then be alerted, and the problem can be solved.”

Ms Goodman said 10 per cent of the almost 56 million tyres discarded annually in Australia are domestically recycled.

“The rest are either exported overseas or disposed to landfill, stockpiled and illegally dumped,” Ms Goodman said.

“Understanding how we can work together to ‘stop the stockpile’ that is generated by illegal operators is the first step in finding sustainable end outcomes for a greater number of used tyres in Australia.”

According to Ms Goodman, there are currently up to nine major known stockpiles around the country, which cost an estimated $5 million each to clean up.

City of Port Phillip Victoria Mayor Dick Gross said he welcomed the addition of tyres as a new category on the app.

“This means we can gain a better understanding of where the hot spots are and thus deal with the dumped or stockpiled tyres faster,” Mr Gross said.

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City of Mitcham installs recycled tyre pavement

Paving material made with recycled tyres has been installed by the City of Mitcham, as part of a field trial in sustainable urban drainage design.

The permeable paving, created by the University of Melbourne with funding from Tyre Stewardship Australia, has been laid at St Marys Park in Adelaide.

The material is made from 50 per cent used tyres and is designed to assist water drainage through surface resistance.

Tyre Stewardship Australia CEO Lina Goodman said the City of Mitcham is one of many councils interested in investigating the performance of waste tyre permeable pavement.

“This trial will utilise four tonnes of tyre-derived aggregates, the equivalent to diverting 500 passenger tyres from the waste stream,” Ms Goodman said.

“This project is envisaged to be the first of many, and has been undertaken to demonstrate the effectiveness of the product.”

Ms Goodman said wide spread implementation of the material could see 300,000 tyres used in local government infrastructure per year.

“The use of end-of-life tyres as an aggregate blend for permeable pavement has various applications such as pedestrian walks, bike paths, car parks and low volume roads,” Ms Goodman said.

“TSA is eager to see more trials take place to showcase the products full potential in the urban environment.”

City of Mitcham Mayor Heather Holmes-Ross said the trial is a first for Australia, and will involve testing the permeable pavement under various traffic loads.

“We are very excited to be involved in this innovative trial. This paving product provides many benefits to the environment, including harvesting water to help water nearby trees and gardens,” Dr Holmes-Ross said.

“Not only does it sustain urban vegetation, it can help to increase groundwater recharge, reduce surface runoff, decrease the risk of flash-flooding and help with the treatment of storm water.”

Dr Holmes-Ross said equipment had been installed below the surface of the parking bays to monitor the performance of the pavement, as well as record the surface temperature of the different pavement colours.

“The pavement design has obvious benefits for water sustainable urban design, which will be evaluated during the trial,” Dr Holmes-Ross said.

The trial will also monitor the quality of water passing through the pavement structure, and evaluate its efficiency in reducing contamination of resulting waterways.

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Six new local governments join Tyre Stewardship

A further six local government authorities have received Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) accreditation, after using tyre-derived raw materials in infrastructure projects.

The six new local governments are Burdekin Shire Council (QLD), Campbelltown City Council (SA), Launceston Shire Council (TAS), Paroo Shire Council (QLD), Prospect City Council (SA) and Upper Hunter Shire (NSW).

TSA CEO Lina Goodman said having local authorities on board was a vital step towards ensuring the sustainable management of old tyres.

Ms Goodman also noted having more councils on board would help drive the commercial viability of developing new and improved tyre-derived products.

“Along with transport companies, local governments deploy significant fleets of vehicles,” Ms Goodman said.

“Ensuring that the tyre needs of those fleets are catered for only by entities committed to responsible end-of-life tyre management can make a significant impact on sustainable outcomes for the over 56 million end-of-life tyres Australia generates every year.”

According to Ms Goodman, all newly TSA accredited councils will be closely watching crumbed-rubber asphalt trials in South Australia’s City of Mitcham, with a view off specifying the use of similar surfaces for their future road maintenance and enhancement projects.

“Crumbed-rubber asphalt has been in extensive use overseas, in climatic conditions similar to Australia, with long term use in California, Arizona and South Africa delivering excellent road performance results and highly desirable sustainability outcomes,” Ms Goodman said.

“The local road trial will be looking at a range of performance factors, such as cracking, rutting, moisture retention and general durability.”

Ms Goodman said all local authorities have the opportunity to use recycled tyre-derived materials in urban infrastructure, through both well-established applications and rapidly emerging new products.

“Existing uses of tyre derived material, for applications such as providing soft fall surfaces on playgrounds, are being added to by innovations such as erosion protection wall systems in waterways, noise barriers along roads and permeable pavements for carparks, footpaths and walking tracks,” Ms Goodman said.

“A major focus for the development of new materials is the continual improvement and tailoring of crumbed-rubber asphalt used in roads.”

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Tyre Stewardship invests in crumb rubber concrete

The University of South Australia, with funding from Tyre Stewardship Australia, is working to develop and test reinforced crumbed rubber concrete (CRC), for use in the residential construction industry.

CRC is made by replacing sand with crumb rubber, from end-of-life tyres, in concrete mixes.

Tyre Stewardship CEO Lina Goodman said the University of South Australia testing has assessed both the material itself and its structural properties, with encouraging results.

“Nearly 40 per cent of the annual total of approximately 9.6 million cubic metres of Australian pre-mixed concrete is used for residential construction,” Ms Goodman said.

“That volume presents a significant opportunity to consume very substantial quantities of recycled rubber, and could account for a large proportion of the 56 million end-of-life tyres Australia generates each year.”

According to Ms Goodman, CRC showed no difference in performance when compared with conventional concrete during a full-scale trial of residential slabs.

“There were no issues related to the mixing and delivery of CRC by a commercial ready-mix supplier, and the residential slab contractors working with the new product reported easy application and no difference when finishing the concrete surface,” Ms Goodman said.

“In addition, as with conventional concrete, no visual deterioration was observed on the rubber concrete slab surface after three months. All the initial results indicate that CRC in residential slabs is a promising and potentially viable alternative to conventional concrete.”

Ms Goodman said the commercial potential for CRC is considerable, with positive properties including increased toughness and impact resistance, reduced tendency for cracking and shrinkage and better acoustic and thermal insulation.

“Given the ongoing population growth that is sure to sustain a growing domestic construction industry, the work we are supporting on the development and testing of CRC is one of the most promising areas of market development,” Ms Goodman said.

“Ultimately, the aim is to find valuable uses for tyre-derived material that generate a strong domestic market, create a value for the resource and, in that way, deliver a sustainable circular economy outcome.”

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Tyre Stewardship Australia members achieve circular outcomes

Eight members of Tyre Stewardship Australia are taking their role as tyre manufacturers a step further by working towards a circular economy future.

Read moreTyre Stewardship Australia members achieve circular outcomes

Tyre export markets audited

According to Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), used tyres are being sent overseas with little regard for environmentally sound recycling processes.

TSA Chief Executive Officer Lina Goodman said a recent audit into where some Australian recyclers are sending tyres revealed multiple red flags.

These include selling to businesses with poor health and safety practices, poor storage conditions and companies involved in environmentally harmful burning.

“Whilst it is inevitable that some used tyres will be sold overseas, we want Australian tyre recyclers and collectors to be more vigilant and responsible about where they send their product.

“Although TSA does not have the authority to regulate these markets, we do want to help our participants make informed choices – choices that are safer for the environment and society,” Ms Goodman said.

TSA have engaged multinational assurance company Intertek to assist with the verification of downstream end-of-life tyre processes and review its product stewardship scheme with the aim of greater transparency.

The guiding principal of the product stewardship scheme is that all members must use accredited TSA collectors and recyclers, and if they don’t comply membership can be revoked.

Intertek General Manager Australasia Benjamin Rieck said the company is committed to working with TSA to ensure responsible and environmentally sound outcomes over a range of areas including distribution, environmental, health and safety, modern slavery and broader social responsibility and compliance.

TSA has to date committed $4 million to the development of sustainable end markets for tyre-derived products within Australia.

“We are working hard to support these emerging markets but in the meantime, we need to do more to help our participants find and use reputable overseas recyclers,” Ms Goodman said.

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