MEM sets waste ban timeline, but several “missteps”

Waste glass, mixed plastics and whole baled tyres will be banned over the next two years following the final Meeting of Environment Ministers meeting for the year.

The National Meeting of Environment Ministers in Adelaide on Friday reached an agreement to ban the export of particular categories of waste from 1 July 2020 with a phased approach.

Ministers have agreed waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres that have not been processed into a value-add material should be subject to the export ban.

The phase out plans to be completed by the following dates:

  • All waste glass by July 2020
  • Mixed waste plastics by July 2021
  • All whole tyres including baled tyres by December 2021
  • Remaining waste products, including mixed paper and cardboard, by no later than 30 June 2022.

In response to the move, the Victorian Government urged the Federal Government to provide capital investment in waste and recycling infrastructure to ensure the fast approaching ban does not result in stockpiling.

The Queensland Government is similarly calling on the Federal Government to increase their investment in the recycling and resource recovery industry.

Commenting on the ban of exporting waste tyres, Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), urged all governments to advocate for increasing tyre-derived products in Australia.

The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) said MEM’s decisions on the COAG ban on waste exports and the National Waste Policy Action Plan are several good steps forward, but there were some missteps too.

Among the other decisions from the MEM meeting are the adoption of broader waste minimisation targets in the National Waste Action Plan such as 80 per cent resource recovery and halving organic waste by 2030.

Likewise, the meeting committed to a greater commitment to recycled roads as an important solution, with the Commonwealth to play a leading role.

Additionally, it was recognised that brands and packaging supply chain members need to make clear their ‘buy recycled’ commitments. The meeting committed to harmonising container deposit schemes and recognising the need for infrastructure investment for domestic sustainability, decisions all welcomed by ACOR.

ACOR noted it was concerned with a failure to enact an immediate ban on baled tyre exports as there are readily available markets for the material and serious environmental impacts from its continued export for two more years.

It is also concerned with further indecision on funding for time-critical infrastructure especially for mixed paper decontamination and plastics reprocessing capacity, as well as a continued lack of substantive progress on the product stewardship agenda, including batteries.

ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel said it’s hard to understand why banning baled tyres has not been prioritised as ample evidence was produced on the environmental impact of exports, the existing domestic capacity for reprocessing, and the legal avenues available.

“If one or two jurisdictions blocked this, they need to state their reasons so they can be addressed, and so the ban date can be revisited and expedited at COAG itself. Otherwise, other jurisdictions should just start now via regulations as there is minimal risk in doing so,” Mr Shmigel said.

“On the other hand, it’s good to see more commitment to recycled roads as a practical, no/low cost solution for domestic sustainability. There is evidence that specifying recycled content in even 12 major projects around the country can double our plastics recycling rate, and we should move forward faster on that front, including at COAG where we look forward to the Prime Minister’s continued leadership on recycling,”
he said.

Ministers also agreed to write to the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) to set out their expectations with respect to new packaging targets.

APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly, tasked with supporting the delivery of the National 2025 Packaging Targets, applauded the ministers for agreeing on the National Waste Policy: Action Plan 2019.

Crumb rubber gathering: Tyre Stewardship Australia

Tyre Stewardship Australia hosted a workshop with stakeholders from across the whole supply chain, providing an update on the progress of crumb rubber uptake.

The circular economy is a long-discussed topic as multiple industries recognise the need to shift from the linear economy to one where products are kept in the supply chain for as long as possible.

While the term has been thrown around loosely from time to time, the roads sector is one that has been taking proactive action on material reuse for decades. Turning discussion into action, the Australian Asphalt Pavement Association (AAPA), which represents more than 500 members in the road construction sector, chose to embed this theme into its 18th conference.

Crumb rubber (CR) products are one of the best known and well tested areas that demonstrate the circular economy. CR modified binder has been used in Australia since the mid-70s, although its utilisation has been inconsistent and more common in spray sealing applications.

But in recent times, a more diverse use of CR in pavements has become commonplace through research and development funded by Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA).

To get a sense of CR uptake, TSA sponsored a workshop at the AAPA Conference in Sydney in August.

The workshop was facilitated Joe Grobler from the Australian Road Research Board and included presentations from TSA Senior Strategy Manager Liam O’Keefe, Puma Bitumen’s Erik Denneman, Tyrecycle’s Clinton Habner and Fulton Hogan’s Darryl Byrne.

The presenters included stakeholders from each end of the supply chain of Australian tyre-derived product in the road sector, from bitumen supply to tyre recycling and road construction.

Mr Habner spoke on behalf of the challenges facing recycling industries that remanufacture end-of-life materials and the benefits that ongoing procurement of their product can provide to the sector.

Mr Denneman discussed the fact that increasing demand from CR binders is already impacting Puma Bitumen – one of Australia’s largest bitumen providers for asphalt products. According to Mr Denneman, we’re no longer waiting for the market to shift – it’s already moving. He also provided extensive technical analysis on trends in the industry.

Finally, Mr Byrne from Fulton Hogan spoke of the fact that as a contractor, he’s seen the benefits of CR binders in creating longer lasting pavements. He explained that the days of trials and demonstrations must give way to normalising use. Contractors are ready to provide the product, however, better manufacturing infrastructure that can accommodate CR and more cost competitive feedstock is required.

“We’ve got about 450,000 tonnes of tyre waste here in Australia. We use a small percentage of that, 10,000 tonnes in bitumen surfacing, [and] I think we can grow that quite rapidly over the coming years, with the aspiration within industry in various forms to get it to 35,000 tonnes per annum,” Mr Byrne said.

The panellists noted that an uplift in volume in CR is starting to occur in asphalt use as modern asphalt plants are able to produce wet mixed CR asphalts though vertical tanks with agitation.

Mr Byrne highlighted that an increase in CR consumption will require investment in equipment and new technology due to a limited number of producers on the market.

As the workshop arrived at the interactive component of the presentation, an audience of road owners/government, contractors, designers, binder suppliers, industry organisations and others were able to vote on a range of questions. More than 60 participants were involved in most questions with road owners/government making up around 40 per cent of the audience, followed by contractors and binder suppliers.

A majority of participants voted that performance drove their product selection followed by initial costs, whole-of-life costs, sustainability and policy. More than 80 per cent of participants are currently using CR, while the barriers stopping its increased uptake were attributed to a lack of infrastructure/supply, followed by a lack of specifications/guidelines and cost.

Around 63 per cent of participants believe adequate specifications/guidelines are not in place and around 40 per cent were unaware if their companies test CR for compliance with the specifications. Around 80 per cent of participants agreed sourcing local tyres was important to them.

Broadly speaking, the main barriers to increasing CR were noted to be cost, health and safety and performance.

Mr Byrne said that road agencies are increasingly changing their practices and predicts an increase in CR in other states and territories akin to how it has been used in Victoria.

One of the key discussion points was that CR has been used in Australia for more than 50 years and it was important all stakeholders stopped referring to these projects as “trials”. While VicRoads has been an industry leader in CR, a need to utilise more passenger tyres and shift the policy in government towards supporting local product manufacture was acknowledged.

In terms of modern specifications, the various states and territories each have their own specifications that support CR uptake and most require they be natural, synthetic and free from contaminants.

Mr O’Keefe said that the conversation reiterated that the industry is primed to provide the product to market, but it’s now the role of end users to “take up the challenge” and procure CR product in greater volume.

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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.

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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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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Stockpiles drive action: Tyre Stewardship Australia

Volkswagen has become the first automobile company to receive accreditation from Tyre Stewardship Australia, with Australia now set to see a further 400,000 tyres disposed of responsibly.

A 2019 Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) audit of export markets showed some Australian recyclers were sending tyres overseas and failing to meet accredited recycling processes.

Tyres were reportedly being sold to businesses with poor health and safety practices, including those that engaged in stockpile burning.

According to the 2017 National Market Development Strategy for Used Tyres, Australia generated 447,000 tonnes of tyre waste in 2015-16. This represents the equivalent of 56.3 million end-of-life tyres and of those, only 10 per cent where recycled.

The strategy suggests tyre waste generation will continue to grow over the next 10 years, with new tyre sales expected to exceed 63.3 million by 2024-25.

TSA seeks to tackle this problem by signing up more tyre manufacturers, importers and retailers to its nationally accredited product stewardship scheme.

While a core function of TSA’s business is ensuring members commit to the responsible disposal of tyres, in recent years the scheme has shifted focus. Much of TSA’s recent activity centres on driving the commercial viability of the developing tyre-derived product market.

In June, for example, TSA accredited six new local councils after they used tyre-derived raw material in infrastructure projects.

To further incentivise the use of tyre-derived products, TSA seeks widespread industry participation at all levels of the supply chain.

\Volkswagen Australia General Manager Corporate Communications Paul Pottinger holds a similar view, arguing sustainable tyre recycling is the responsibility of all individuals and organisations working in the car industry.

This year, Volkswagen became the first auto company to co-sign the TSA accreditation scheme.

Presently TSA has 11 members, most of which are tyre manufacturers and retailers.

“I think most people in the industry are well aware of the worst-case practices, none of which are environmentally agreeable,” Paul says.

“For us, tyres are a by-product of the simple act of doing business, so it’s our obligation to ensure dealers engage in best practice and dispose of tyres sustainably.”

According to Paul, news that Australia’s biggest European car importer has joined TSA will hold significant weight and push similar action across the industry. He adds that Volkswagen sits on the board of the Chamber of Automotive industries – Australia’s peak industry body for car companies.

“The industry is changing in every respect, with increasing emphasis on developing business practices that are as environmentally conscious and sustainable as possible,” Paul says.

“It’s not up to Volkswagen to wag an admonitory finger at people, but we are very happy to lead the way for our colleagues.”

As part of Volkswagen’s TSA membership, 100-plus Australia Volkswagen dealerships are now committed to TSA’s accreditation requirements.

TSA commitments include increasing tyre resource recovery and recycling, growing Australia’s tyre recycling industry though scheme promotion and assisting the development of end-markets for tyre-derived products.

TSA also requires members to contribute to the elimination of inappropriate exporting and illegal dumping of end-of-life tyres through transparent collection reporting.

Paul says becoming aware that one of Volkswagen’s tyre suppliers was not a scheme signatory was a key prompt for Managing Director Michael Bartsch to get involved with TSA.

“When it was brought to our attention that one of our suppliers wasn’t working with the objectives of TSA, we decided it was important to get involved and take action,” Paul says.

“Looking forward, it is our intention to deal only with tyre manufactures who are TSA co-signatories, at the exclusion of those who are not.”

The TSA program is funded by a levy imposed on tyre importers, and now Volkswagen as a vehicle manufacturer. The levy is calculated at a rate proportional to the number of tyres the member imports or sells into Australia.

The levy is used to support market development and research, organisational management costs and implementation of TSA’s end-of-life tyre strategy.

According to Paul, Volkswagen’s levy will annually apply to almost half a million tyres.

“Volkswagen will pay a levy based on an annual figure of 400,000-plus tyres, which represents roughly five tyres per vehicle sold based on 2018 sales figures,” he says.

Prior to becoming TSA member, Volkswagen did not have a centralised tyre disposal policy in place.

“I don’t believe any car company has a centralised system. The management of disposal is often left to individual dealers,” he says.

“I’m sure disposal been done as responsibly as possible, but ensuring a TSA-accredited service is collecting Volkswagen tyres is unquestionably the best way forward.”

Paul says the simple act of recognising tyres as a waste stream is crucial to achieving TSA objectives.

“Tyre waste is not something a lot of people in the auto industry are thinking about,” he says.

“Volkswagen playing an active role in responsibly disposing of, and recycling, what would otherwise be a waste product is a huge step forward.”

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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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