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Unlocking opportunity

Unlocking opportunity

As the 1 December deadline for Australia’s tyre export ban inches closer, Tyrecycle and equipment manufacturer Eldan Recycling are at the forefront of future-proofing the sector.

Unlocking opportunity
Tyrecycle has secured RMF funding to expand its Erskine Park facility in New South Wales.

Each year, 56 million tyres are discarded in Australia; that in itself presents a large waste issue for the country. When you overlay that with the Council of Australian Government (COAG) ban on the export of waste tyres, specifically whole-baled tyres from 1 December 2021, the problem is  exacerbated.

Jim Fairweather, Tyrecycle Chief Executive, says the end game should be developing and delivering domestic processing capacity and domestic markets.

“It’s one thing to process all the material here, and it has to be processed appropriately; [but] we have to find socially and environmentally sustainable outcomes for those products we make,” he says.

Jim praises the government for its “appetite for change and appetite for action” in relation to the bans. And he says it hasn’t been all talk.

The Federal Government’s Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) will generate more than $600 million for investment in infrastructure to sort, process and remanufacture materials including tyres, mixed plastic, paper and glass.

Recognised as a global leader in tyre recycling, Tyrecycle has secured RMF funds to expand its plant in Erskine Park, New South Wales. It is also bolstering operations in Victoria and Western Australia.

Purpose-built plants will be built in Perth and Port Hedland within the next 18 months. Port Hedland will be geared towards processing of tyres used in mining, while the Perth plant will be the first crumb rubber factory to service the state’s “burgeoning demand” for road construction using crumbed rubber. The Melbourne operation will be upgraded both in terms of its output for crumbed rubber to be consumed in Australia, and other value-added products to be sent offshore.

Jim says there is enough domestic capacity in tyre recycling now to move the product from the baling sector but until there are domestic markets that can consume Australia’s tyre-derived products in full, export options must be available.

“We need to use [RMF] funds to make more value-added products. This is not exporting waste; this is exporting products made for very discerning customer groups. It’s a product made from waste; but it’s not waste,” he says.

“The RMF fund underpins that transitional piece from where we are today, to where we need to be in the future.”

Tyrecycle is continuing a partnership with Eldan Recycling to unlock new opportunities in the sector.

The company is about to begin a trial for a Tyre-Derived Fuel (TDF) user in Thailand, which, Jim says, is a more value-added product than they would have previously made.

“It’s so important that we partner with people like Eldan, who would be regarded as the best OEM [original equipment manufacturer] for tyre recycling in the world,” he says. “Their machines are made to an incredibly high, exacting standard. They are a fabulous partner to work with in terms of working through plant design. Because of their experience, they know what works and what doesn’t work for particular feedstock.

“Because tyres are so hard wearing on equipment, this is one market where you cannot go and buy cheap equipment. If you do, you’re destined for failure. This is why we use Eldan.”

Jim believes as Australia generates more infrastructure to process products to a higher value-added level, we will see more domestic consumption of those products.

“This allows us to make more complex products, which attract a higher gate fee. In turn, as you increase the value of products you make, you should diminish the amount of burden you place on the waste collection part of the business.

“It’s a really exciting time in the market and in tyres,” he says.

“It’s a really exciting time to be part of it and hopefully leading it and leading it responsibly.

“We take our role as a corporate and environmental citizen extremely seriously.”

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