What happens to ‘tyred’ tyres? – Tyre recycling

Tyre Graveyard

Old tyres are a standard by-product of owning a vehicle. Disposing of them however at their end of life poses a challenge owing to their awkward shape and non-biodegradability. Old tyres cannot simply be dumped on the local garbage truck to get rid of them as they can become hazardous to the environment. While the conventional method of car tyres disposal is stockpiling or dumping illegally, these methods only serve as a short-term solution and could be hazardous if caught by fire.

Recycling is not only a long-term solution but also an efficient method for tyre disposal, and growing traction in South Africa (no pun intended!) In 2011 it was estimated that 60 million used tyres could be found on South African soil – more tyres than people. 

What happens to ‘tyred’ tyres? - Tyre recycling 1

In 2012 South Africa approved the REDISA Integrated Industry Waste Tyre Management Plan (IIWTMP) whereby tyre producers (both domestic manufacturers and importers) would themselves pay for the recycling of their products.

A fee of R2.30 per kilogram was levied on all new tyre rubber. Proceeds were used to establish an infrastructure for tyre collecting and downcycling and to pay for its administration. The scheme is administered by REDISA, the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa, an independent body. 

What happens to ‘tyred’ tyres? - Tyre recycling 2

For collection and recycling, REDISA developed a system of ‘transporters’ for collection and depots where tyres could be stowed. Upon request from registered dealerships the transporters collect used tyres, bring the tyres to the depot and are paid for the volume of tyres delivered. From the depot, the waste tyres are then sent to processing centres, where they are turned into new products or energy.

Linked to the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth and Stellenbosch University, REDISA, along with managing this system, funds research and development for new processing methods and higher value applications for waste tyres. While it carries out promotional activities, it also raises consumer awareness.

Read more about REDISA