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Tyre industry welcomes priority product proposal

Millions of tyres piled around New Zealand are set to become a thing of the past with the announcement of a Government proposal to regulate stewardship of end-of-life tyres.

The announcement of a proposed declaration of priority product for tyres, made by Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage, means a co-designed and regulated product stewardship scheme would have to be established to manage end-of-life tyres (ELTs).

Adele Rose, Chief Executive of 3R Group, which leads the Tyrewise project says they are delighted with the announcement. “This is very exciting. It’s something the industry has been wanting and working towards for a long time,” she says. “Finally, we should see progress on a significant problem with a very real solution.”

Product stewardship sees importers and retailers take responsibility for their products and ensure they are re-used, recycled or properly disposed of at the end of their useful life. New Zealand currently has no regulated product stewardship schemes in place.

“The declaration of priority product with associated product controls is a key aspect of regulated product stewardship for ELTs as it ensures a level playing field for all manufacturers and distributors, without the negative impact of free-riders who choose not to participate in a voluntary scheme,” says Adele. “It is also critical in securing a continuous supply of ELTs for processors and end users and much needed investment for the development of end markets.”

The industry-led Tyrewise Working Group began working towards a proposal for regulated product stewardship for ELTs in 2012. Following the postponement of the National Government’s decision to declare tyres a priority product, the Working Group geared up again in response to the signal that it was back on the Agenda of the Coalition Government.

Work done six years ago, which provided a framework for an industry-led, government-supported regulated product stewardship scheme for ELTs is now being updated. The project has received $79,625 of funding from the Waste Minimisation Fund, approved by Eugenie Sage, Associate Minister for the Environment. This represents 100% of the project’s total cost.

“The Working Group remains ready to submit their scheme for accreditation once priority product is announced and product controls to support regulation are agreed to,” says Adele.

"Part of the work to update our reports is to undertake full consultation with all stakeholders and the public so it’s good to see the Minister’s announcement also includes consultation on the regulatory impact of declaring tyres a priority product,” says Adele. “We welcome feedback from all parties to ensure we have a robust framework to solve the environmental problems associated with dumping of tyres and tyre stockpiles.”

The proposed regulatory scheme has an advanced disposal fee built into the cost of tyres which will be used to fund the scheme. “It is critical that people understand this is not an additional fee for consumers but replaces the existing disposal fees charged by most tyre retailers without any surety of good environmental management at end of life. The proposed Tyrewise scheme will ensure the positive outcomes we all want.”

The fee will 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, along with an auditing and compliance programme to evidence compliance, Adele 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.

“End-of-life tyres represent a huge potential resource that is lost when they are dumped or put in landfill. A regulated product stewardship scheme makes economic and environmental sense and will enable a circular economy approach to deal with these tyres,” says Adele.

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