Growing a market for tyre-derived products

With reauthorisation from the ACCC, Tyre Stewardship Australia is increasing the scope of its product stewardship scheme to fund demonstration projects that use tyre-derived products.With reauthorisation from the ACCC, Tyre Stewardship Australia is increasing the scope of its product stewardship scheme to fund demonstration projects that use tyre-derived products. 

Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) was established in 2013 as a voluntary product stewardship scheme. Its aim is to increase the recycling rate of end of life waste tyres and develop the market for products derived from them.

To do this, the scheme places a 25-cent levy on tyres sold by the eight major tyre importers and voluntary TSA members: Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear Dunlop, Kumho Tyre, Michelin, Pirelli, Toyo Tires and Yokohama.

A large portion of these funds goes towards support for research and development of new methods and products which turn a potentially hazardous waste into the materials used to build infrastructure, including permeable pavements and spray seal.

The scheme was only authorised for five years but in June this year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) reauthorised it for an additional six years, as the scheme is likely to increase the number of tyres being disposed of in an environmentally friendly way and result in a net public benefit.

TSA recently incorporated changes to introduce the Demonstration and Infrastructure section of its Market Development Fund to further develop the market and increase demand for tyre-derived products (TDP).

To make it easier for companies and stakeholders to invest in recycled tyre technology, this portion of the fund will go towards dollar-for-dollar grants for demonstration and infrastructure projects that generate the consumption of TDP on an ongoing basis.

Liam O’Keefe, TSA Market Development Manager, says encouraging the industry to invest in the technology and processes to develop the market is critical.

“In Australia, we’re generating 56 million end of life tyres every year, with this number set to reach 64 million in the next five years. As our population also grows, more roads and infrastructure projects will also be required to sustain it,” he says.

“One of the challenges we face in developing the market is the differences in operational approaches across each state road authority.

“The industry is geared towards providing a particular set of services and parameters which it can often find comfortable. Challenging this standard practice provides an opportunity for the industry to improve road performance and increase positive environmental impact.”

The fund offers protection for state road authorities, local governments and construction companies by offsetting some of the initial investment risk. By doing so, TSA aims to facilitate an increase in the number of projects that demonstrate the capabilities of the recycled rubber products and processes to encourage further projects.

Mr. O’Keefe says organisations that foster strong partnerships between stakeholders have the best chance of receiving funding through the program.

“Applicants that have excellent project management, can showcase the practical benefits of TDP and have industry connections are the teams we want to be helping,” he explains.

“Innovation is a point of difference and builds upon best practice, so we also want to hear from organisations that have new ways of using the products and processes,” Mr. O’Keefe adds.

By showcasing the commercial viability of TDPs and providing domestic examples for state road authorities to use in updating pavement specifications, Mr. O’Keefe says project demonstrations have the ability to influence the end market.

Alongside this, TSA has also collaborated with Australian Asphalt Pavement Association (AAPA), Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads, Main Roads Western Australia, Sustainability Victoria, Department of Environment and Science Queensland and the Australian Road Research Board to develop two national specifications for crumb rubber asphalt in open-graded and gap-graded applications.

Mr. O’Keefe says councils also play a major role as they are consistent consumers of a high volume of road building material. Because of this, they also have the ability to stimulate certain areas of the market depending upon particular procurement choices.

To harness these potential benefits from procurement, TSA aims to highlight the social and environmental benefits of using recycled waste tyres for productive outcomes. Currently, many local government authorities pay a fee to dispose of tyres and are required to properly manage them to avoid risks of fire, water-borne pathogens and vermin.

Using TDPs can transform a council’s waste into a resource, so TSA and AAPA have developed a “tech talk” series, which focuses on the technical solutions available to local governments such as spray seal and crumb rubber binder.

Engineers and industry experts will present at the talks to clear up misconceptions about the technology while providing practical guidance on how to best use TDP.

Mr. O’Keefe says AAPA’s engineers are in the best position to connect with councils that want the best possible advice to provide services for the community.

“We are trying to facilitate the discussion within the industry. We’re looking to put the right information forward to help councils take a sustainable, financially viable and positive approach to procurement,” he says.

The tech talks began on 13 September in Toowoomba, Queensland, with further sessions to take place in New South Wales at Wagga on 31 October and Parkes on 1 November, and then other states around Australia.

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