Government targeting tyre dumping and waste minimisation

6 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJuly 30, 2020

Adele Rose, chief executive of 3R Group, the project managers for Tyrewise.

The government is stepping up action to deal with environmentally harmful products – including plastic packaging, tyres and e-waste – before they become waste, a move that will address the issue of tyre dumping.

As part of the wider plan to reduce the amount of rubbish ending up in landfills, Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage has announced six products to be declared ‘priority products‘ for the establishment of regulated product stewardship schemes under the Waste Minimisation Act. The products are:

  • Plastic packaging

  • Tyres

  • Electrical and electronic products (e-waste)

  • Agrichemicals and their containers

  • Refrigerants

  • Farm plastics.

‘“Regulated product stewardship helps put the responsibility for waste and what happens to products at the end of their useful life on manufacturers, importers, retailers and users, rather than on communities, councils, neighbourhoods and nature,” said Sage.

“Old products that have reached the end of their life can be used to make something new, especially if they are designed better for reuse and recycling.”

Currently New Zealand has 15 voluntary accredited product stewardship schemes, which have had limited success in minimising waste for the target products.

The government‘s decision to require the establishment of regulated product stewardship schemes follows a public consultation in 2019 with public support for government taking stronger action on these products.

“New Zealanders‘ expectations about waste have changed. We need new approaches such as regulated product stewardship that will help reduce the environmental impacts of waste by ensuring that products and materials currently lost to landfill or pollution are recovered, reprocessed or re-used.  This encourages new businesses and jobs,” said Sage.

The next step will be for the Ministry for the Environment to work with the manufacturers and retailers of the priority products and with stakeholders to co-design product stewardship schemes and regulations that will work for them and the environment.

The announcement means dumping and stockpiling of tyres will become a thing of the past, says the industry-led Tyrewise project.

“This will end illegal stockpiling and dumping which has over time cost both ratepayers and the environment heavily,” says Adele Rose, chief executive of 3R Group, the project managers for Tyrewise, which has been leading the push for regulation of end of life tyres.

“This is what we have been working towards for the past eight years,” says Rose. “We‘re delighted that together we have got this over the line, despite numerous setbacks.”

In 2012 stakeholders established the Tyrewise project and welcomed the introduction of an industry-led framework for a regulated stewardship scheme. However, successive governments failed to make use of the tools available to regulate end of life tyres.

The announcement means a regulated product stewardship scheme will have to be established to ensure all end-of-life tyres (ELTs) are responsibly managed.

“Now, with Minister Sage having made the announcement, Tyrewise can forge ahead with the industry-led scheme that has been designed,” says Rose.

“The key impact of regulated product stewardship is ensuring there is 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.”

The industry has long been in favour of a regulated product stewardship scheme for tyres, according to Imported Motor Vehicle Industry Association chief executive, and Tyrewise working group member, David Vinsen.

“We‘re disappointed it has taken so many years to be announced so we are fully in support of it and welcome the announcement by the minister.”

The proposed regulatory scheme has an advanced disposal fee built into the cost of tyres that 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,” Rose says.

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, she says.

“End-of-life tyres represent a huge potential resource. A regulated product stewardship scheme makes economic and environmental sense and will enable a circular economy approach to deal with these tyres,” Rose says.

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