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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Tyre Stewardship Australia joins International Rubber Study Group

Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) has joined the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG), an inter-governmental organisation composed of rubber producing and consuming stakeholders.

According to IRSG Secretary-General Salvatore Pinizzotto, the group has 36 members countries and over 100 members covering the entire natural and synthetic rubber value chain.

“IRSG is the sole multinational body dedicated to discussing the many issues that affect natural rubber and synthetic rubber production, usage, trade and recycling,” Mr Pinizzotto said.

“We welcome TSA into our group and look forward to hearing their ideas and sharing our knowledge.”

TSA CEO Lina Goodman said the membership will ensure TSA connects directly with government officials on a global scale.

“It gives TSA a far greater insight into current global trends, and how this affects what happens to Australia’s waste tyres,” Ms Goodman said.

“We are also working with a global quality assurance organisation, Intertek, to verify what happens to Australian waste tyres that are currently exported overseas.”

Ms Goodman said working with IRSG will also allow TSA to help state and federal government’s gain a better understanding of the current foreign trade in waste tyres.

“This membership gives TSA and Australia better global connections, better information, and will lead to better outcomes for waste tyres,” Ms Goodman said.

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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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City of Mitcham uses waste tyres in asphalt trial

Around 850 used tyres have been recycled to pave a 335 metre stretch of road as part of a crumbed rubber asphalt trial in the City of Mitcham, South Australia.

The asphalt trial is funded by Tyre Stewardship Australia to support research and development into ways of improving local markets for tyre-derived products.

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A specific warm mix of dense-graded crumb rubber modified asphalt was used on the trial, which has been laboratory tested and found to be suitable for use in challenging underlying soil conditions, such as reactive clay.

The test will focus on a range of performance factors including cracking, rutting, moisture retention and general durability. The results of the test are expected to increase the specification of such roads across Australia.

If successful, the trail aims to contribute to doubling the use of recycled tyre rubber in Australia’s roads, leading to an increase in the percentage of annual used tyres consumed from around five per cent to 10 per cent.

Australia generates around 56 million end-of-life tyres each year, however only around 10 per cent of that volume is recycled domestically in all uses. Crumbed rubber asphalt and rubberised road surface spray seals can provide a potentially benefit of increasing recycling rates and improving roads.

City of Mitcham Mayor Heather Holmes-Ross said there was not only a sustainability dividend, as the asphalt will also have the potential to directly lower maintenance costs as it is less prone to cracking and rutting.

“We are trialling the crumb rubber asphalt because of the significant environmental benefits as well as the opportunity to improve the quality and life of road pavements, particularly in areas of reactive clay soils,” Ms Holmes-Ross said.

Acting CEO of Tyre Stewardship Australia Steve Clifford congratulated the council for conducting the test.

“The work done in South Australia will play an important role in creating valuable domestic recycling outcomes for end-of-life tyres. Outcomes that can also deliver new green jobs,” Mr Clifford said.

Ongoing testing is scheduled to run for two years, with results monitored on a regular basis to assess the key performance parameters.

TSA implements Demonstration and Infrastructure funding stream

Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) has expanded to include a Demonstration and Infrastructure stream to grow the end market for tyre-derived products.

The new project stream will support projects that offer significant domestic use of tyre-derived products and demonstrate their benefits and viability to potential end users and product specifiers.

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A minimum 1:1 funding criterion is required for all projects, with a minimum funding level of $50,000 excluding GST and maximum of $300,000 excluding GST, however considerations will be given for larger or smaller project cash contribution on a dollar for dollar basis if the case can be made for the achievement of greater outcomes.

Applications will be assessed most favourably if a project consumes high volumes of Australian tyre-derived products and are considered innovative by TSA. Projects that can demonstrate a strong correlation between the delivery of the project and ongoing consumption of tyre derived products will also be strongly considered.

Projects must have collaborative partnerships between industry, research bodies and end users such as councils, road authorities, manufacturers or civil engineering and construction companies to demonstrate a realistic market application.

One example is the testing performed by state road authorities of the application of the newly released Australian Asphalt Pavement Association national specifications for crumbed rubber containing asphalt.

Other projects include the University of Melbourne’s trial to develop an optimum blend of permeable paving that uses recycled tyres to create footpaths, bike paths, carparks and low volume traffic roads which also can provide water to nearby trees.

The expanded funding stream does not allow funding of recycling infrastructure, seed funding for new ventures, clean-up of stockpiles or for feasibility studies.

TSA has already committed more than $3 million in support of research and development projects that focus on finding new domestic uses for tyre derived products.

For more information and to apply, click here.

Tyre pyrolysis and gasification report to inform industry

To inform the industry on the use of tyres in thermal processing plants, Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) has released a report into the effectiveness of both pyrolysis and gasification.

The Tyre Pyrolysis and Gasification Technologies – A brief Guide for Government and Industry report looks at the global history of operating plants and considers the economic and end-product market factors that are critical to the commercial viability of recycling technologies in the Australian market.

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High temperature thermal processing can create oil, synthetic gas, carbon black and steel, while also providing a way of handling a waste stream that can have potential environmental or health problems if stockpiled.

TSA Market Development Manager Liam O’Keefe said the motivation of the guide was to provide the industry thought leadership on both emerging technologies as possible recycling solutions and to better inform government and businesses considering investment in such technologies.

“Obviously, TSA is interested in any technology that can sensitively recycle almost 100% of a waste tyre, but we must be aware of the prevailing market conditions, investment costs and competitive pressures that play a role in establishing the economic sustainability of such projects,” Mr O’Keefe said.

“We believe the guide, by providing a high level of consultation, analysis and technical and economic detail, will be an aid to decision making around proposed facilities.

“No one technology will meet the waste tyre environmental challenge on its own. The best result with such immense global resource recovery and management challenges usually comes from a combination of options, offering the flexibility to adjust to future conditions and developing market demands.”

The report can be downloaded here, with a full report on thermal tyre processing technologies by request from TSA.

Millions of tyres could soon be used in Australia’s roads

New national specifications for Crumbed Rubber Modified (CRM) asphalt could see millions of waste tyres being used in Australia’s road infrastructure.

The Australian Asphalt Pavement Association (AAPA), Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), Main Roads Queensland, Main Roads WA, Sustainability Victoria and the Australian Road Research Board have worked together to develop and analyse research and development data to achieve cohesive national standards.

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The new national specifications could see nearly 10 per cent of the accessible feedstock for Australian tyre-derived crumb rubber used in domestic road manufacturing, which adds up to almost 4 million end-of-life tyres every year.

The document was published by the AAPA national technology and leadership committee to facilitate the construction of demonstration trials of CRM gap graded asphalt (GGA), and to promote the use of CRM open graded asphalt in Australia.

The crumb rubber binder technology is based on the technology used in the US, with the first demonstration section of CRM GGA in the Gold Coast placed in late June.

CRM Asphalt can offer better drainage, reduced noise, improved rut and crack resistance and reduced maintenance cycles.

Engineers and road contractors are now able to work within parameters of the new national specifications to take advantage of CRM asphalt and spray seal.

TSA Market Development Manager Liam O’Keefe said reaching a national standard has been a critical part of increasing the potential market for crumb rubber use in Australian roads.

“To fully realise this potential for that use we must continue to work with industry partners to ensure the delivery of better roads and better environmental outcomes for all,” Mr O’Keefe said.

“The important next phase of the task is ensuring that the new specifications are used. As utilisation of the new specifications grows, so too will the benefits to the end- of-life tyre industry.”

AAPA Director of Technology and Leadership Erik Denneman said this is a great outcome that has come from the close collaboration between industry and road agencies in Australia.

“For AAPA this initiative fits our objective of encouraging the efficient use of available resources and promoting the use of sustainable products,” Mr Denneman said.

The new national specifications can be found here.

JAX Tyres commits to TSA Accreditation

Tyre retailer JAX Tyres has gained accreditation from Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), which has increased the number of TSA accredited retailers to more than 1500.

By gaining accreditation, JAX Tyres has committed to ensuring any end of life tyres they dispose of across its 84-store network are managed within the TSA scheme and support the public education and market development methods of TSA.

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It joins retailers such as Beaurepaires, Bob Jane T-Marts, Bridgestone Service Centres and Bridgestone Select stores, K Mart Tyre & Auto Service, Goodyear Auto Centres, Tyres & More, Tyrepower, TyrePlus and selected Continental and independent retail outlets in achieving TSA Accreditation.

Australia currently generates more than 56 million end-of-life tyres each year. TSA is heavily involved in tyre retail, collection, recycling and research and development of tyre-derived products.

TSA Chief Executive Officer Dale Gilson said there were several consumer options available within the scheme.

“The JAX Tyres decision to join the nationwide list of accredited retailers is both a welcome development and an indication that the Australian tyre retail sector is comprehensively behind the efforts to ensure we deal with the environmental challenge of end-of-life tyres,” Mr Gilson said.

“For consumers, the addition of JAX Tyres adds further comfort that their chosen tyre retailer is committed to doing the right thing for our environment and the development of a viable future circular economy.”

JAX Quickfit Chief Executive Officer Jeff Board said that becoming a part of the TSA accreditation scheme was a step in the direction of ensuring all of its future operations were environmentally sustainable.

“We have continually reviewed operations to ensure the most environmentally sensitive processes and policies possible and we look forward to working with TSA on further addressing the challenge of managing the Australian waste tyre challenge,” Mr Board said.

Image credit: Tyre Stewardship Australia

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