Rubber gold lost to industry | Domestic Energy Pyrolysis of Tyres

About 52 million used tyres were shipped out of the Australia in 2007-08, in the face of struggling attempts to resuscitate Australia’s recycling industry.

As reported yesterday by, two major players in Queensland’s recycling industry are asking why used tyres are being shipped cheaply to Vietnam and on to China to provide fuel in power stations, rather than being used to support local recycling businesses.

While the problem was discussed by Australia’s environment ministers in November 2009 it will not be on the agenda when they meet next month.

Advertisement: Story continues below Queensland’s Keep Australia Beautiful chief executive Rick Burnett said he was horrified at the problem.

“The point about the tyre exports is that you don’t know if they are going to the new power stations or to the older power stations which don’t have emission controls and they are just going straight into the atmosphere,” he said.

“It beggars belief what type of air pollution problems there might be around those power stations.”

Mr Burnett said Keep Australia Beautiful had long lobbied for regulatory change.

Last November, a federal government environment committee chaired by former environment minister Peter Garrett rejected an offer by Australian tyre retailers to invest $150 million in a tyre recycling centre in Australia.

The tyre recycling campaign’s director, David West of the Boomerang Alliance, estimated it could generate $84 million in private revenue, reduce 500,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and create $6.4 million in government revenue.

A spokeswoman for the federal environment department denied the concept had been rejected.

She said it was still “an ongoing issue”, but as of yesterday afternoon it was not on the agenda for Australia’s environment ministers at the Environment Protection and Heritage Council meeting next month.

Mr Burnett called on Queensland’s sustainability minister Kate Jones - who will attend the meeting - to take urgent action.

Ms Jones this week said she would try to make sure the issue was on the agenda.

Mr Burnett said the government should mandate that rubber and crushed glass - which is effectively sand - should be included in all new bikeways and park walking trails as a way of boosting recycling.

“The state government should become the leaders in using rubber and crushed glass in construction,” he said.

“Footpaths, bikeways - any path in any park - any pathway could easily use components of glass and rubber.”

It is understood this concept is being considered as part of Queensland’s new Waste Strategy 2010-2020.

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