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Industry ready to tackle New Zealand’s waste tyre problem

New Zealand’s tyre industry says it is ready to make mandatory stewardship for end of life tyres a reality, it just needs Government to get on board.

The industry-led working group Tyrewise has been reactivated following the new stance being taken by Government on end of life tyres. The group is updating work done six years ago which provided a framework for an industry-led, government supported mandatory product stewardship scheme for end of life tyres.

The group hopes tyres will soon be declared a priority product by the Ministry for the Environment, which will see the establishment of a mandatory product stewardship scheme.

Adele Rose, Chief Executive of 3R Group, which leads the Tyrewise project, says they are excited to get another crack at a stewardship scheme for tyres. “End of life tyres represent a huge potential resource that is lost when they are dumped or put in landfill. A mandatory product stewardship scheme makes economic and environmental sense and will enable a circular economy approach to deal with these tyres.”

The scheme would see the cost of disposal of end of life tyres built into the purchase price. This advanced disposal fee would be used to incentivise end markets, processing and collection of tyres, putting an end to stockpiles, illegal dumping or landfilling tyres, and the associated risks to people and the environment.

VIA Chief Executive David Vinsen, who is part of the Tyrewise working group, says he is hopeful Government will act on the proposal for the scheme. VIA offers advice and advocacy for the used vehicle industry in New Zealand.

Tyrewise was set up in 2012 to help find a solution for end of life tyres in New Zealand. A proposal for a mandatory stewardship scheme was put forward to then Minister for the Environment Nick Smith in August 2013. However, the then government proceeded with an investment strategy to secure markets for end of life tyres, postponing any decision about declaring tyres a priority product enabling mandatory stewardship.

“We were disappointed that a lot of work was done (six years ago) on a proposal to deal with end of life tyres, but it wasn’t acted on. We are really pleased with the new Government’s position on tyres and hope they will pick up the proposal,” Mr Vinsen says.

The total volume of tyres (car, truck, aircraft etc) which come to the end of their useful life in New Zealand each year is currently equivalent to over 7.75 million passenger tyre equivalents – some 73,700 tonnes worth.

No real solutions for end of life tyres in New Zealand have led to millions stockpiled around the country, wasting a resource and posing a significant harm to people and the environment, Mrs Rose says.

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