How to get rid of old tyres

Old tyres are such an eyesore.  They are highly inflammable and when alighted produces toxic fumes into the environment.

According to Hyder Consulting’s report , only 16% of the 48 million tyres Australia dumps each year is recycled.   A passenger car tyre contains approximately 1.5kg of steel, 0.5kg of textiles and 7 kg of rubber.   A lot of end of life tyres are shipped overseas.  If only 16% recycled domestically, that means many are ending in a landfill, a stockpile or illegal dumping.

3 things you shouldn’t do with old tyres

Unfortunately, the 3 most common ways to dispose of old tyres are the 3 worst ways to do it.

Don’t send tyres to the landfill

Landfill use limited space to compact and dispose rubbish.  Tyres are hollow.  They take up a lot of space in a landfill.

Tyres have a propensity to trap methane gas and the release of this gas into the air is harmful to the environment.

Don’t burn tyres illegally

Illegal tyre burning is ban in Australia.  Illegal burning can start bush fires.   Illegal tire burning affects the environment in 3 crucial ways namely air, water and soil.

The thick black fumes from tyre burning include “criteria”pollutants, such as particulates, carbon monoxide (CO), sulphur oxides (SOx), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They also include “non-criteria” hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), such as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),dioxins, furans, hydrogen chloride, benzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and metals such as cadmium, nickel, zinc, mercury, chromium, and vanadium.

Both criteria and non-criteria pollutants can cause significant short and long term health effects.  Depending on the length and degree of exposure, these health effects could include irritation of the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, respiratory effects, central nervous system depression, and cancer.

In terms of water and soil pollution, according to the EPA, “for every million tires consumed by fire, about 55,000 gallons of runoff oil can pollute the environment unless contained and collected”.  If uncontained, this runoff can then be carried away by rainwater to local water sources contaminating them.  Additionally, the remaining residue can cause two types of pollution; these are immediate pollution by liquid decomposition products penetrating soil, and gradual pollution from leaching of ash and unburned residues following rainfall or other water entry.

Don’t stockpile tyres

Tyre stockpiles are an eyesore.  Old tyres in the yard can become breeding grounds for vermin, mosquitoes and flies.  The fire risks associated with stockpiling tire is high and there are laws in Australia to this effect.

New tyre regulations

Waste tyre storage faces tighter controls aimed at minimising the risk of hazardous fires, as new regulations developed by the EPA became effective 29 April 2015.

The regulations specify guidelines around tyre stockpiling, and what measures operators must take to reduce their fire risk. Premises that store more than 40 tonnes or 5,000 waste tyres are required to obtain a works approval and licence from EPA.

To view the amended Environment Protection (Scheduled Premises and Exemptions) Regulations please visit your state government website or the EPA website.

How to recycle tyres

Re-tread your tyres

Reduce, reuse, recycle. Certain tyres can be re-treaded or repaired to extend their useful life. Re-treading tyres returns them to a safe and usable quality by removing the residual tread and adhering new tread to the old tyre casing. Talk to your tyre supplier about purchasing re-treadable tyres, and whether or not your current tyres can be re-treaded.

Choose a mechanic that recycles

Make sure the mechanic or garage you use recycles your tyres. Some tyre service centres will recycle your tyres for free when you buy new ones. Look for the Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) logo and choose those services over others without accreditation.

National Tyre Product Stewardship Scheme

This scheme aims to increase both the number of tyres recycled in Australia and the use of products made with recycled material. Tyre industry participants who apply for, and gain Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) accreditation, must commit to playing their part in ensuring sustainable end-of-life use for tyres. The majority of car tyres are disposed of through a business, shop or central point other than a waste transfer station.

What happens to recycled tyres?

Initially, recycled tyres are cut into smaller pieces to make transport and handling safer and easier. Further processing is used to separate the rubber, textile and steel, and the remaining rubber is crumbed (or granulated) and made ready for re-use.

End-of-life tyres and tyre-derived products can be put to productive use in many ways, including:

  • the manufacture of new rubber products, such as artificial turf, conveyor belts and brake pads
  • road construction and surfacing
  • alternative fuel source for producers of energy and cement.
  • Old tyres can also be incorporated into civil engineering projects as lightweight in-fill for embankments.

Don’t risk a $8,000 fine or prosecution – penalties are up to $5 million

Section 143 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) requires that waste must be transported to a place that can lawfully accept it.

Tyre retailers, tyre retreaders and the waste tyre transporter can each be guilty of an offence when waste tyres are transported to a place that cannot lawfully be used as a waste facility.

Check where your waste is going

Regularly check that waste tyres from your business are taken to a lawful place. At a minimum the facility must have consent from council to operate.

It will have a consent number issued by the council in which it is located. You can and should check this number with council.

If it is a large facility it will have an environment protection licence.

Search the POEO Act public register to identify whether the waste facility has an environment protection licence under the POEO Act (if required) to accept waste tyres for storage, processing or disposal.

Keep records

Keep written records and details of your tyre waste transporter as well as the tyre waste disposal facility.

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