Tyrewise - Recycling for end of life tyres

New Zealand Situation

The management and disposal of end-of-life tyres in New Zealand is problematic for many

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Around 3.9 million passenger tyres and some 1.2 million truck and other tyres reach their end of life in New Zealand annually. A proportion of these are responsibly recycled or disposed in landfills, many are not. A collection and end use infrastructure has developed but the outcomes vary considerably.

A culture of charging for spent “casings” at retail level has developed but the attachment of those funds to the disposal of the tyre is not uniform and there is evidence of “lowest cost” outcomes leading to tyre piles or illegal dumping. The economic cost to NZ overall from these variable practices is possibly the same as it would be if the costs were properly internalised to the tyre itself and made visible (instead of non-compliance or “externalities” falling on ratepayers and taxpayers).

Fortunately this road has been travelled by other countries and some have become highly successful in achieving great recovery and recycling rates (see below). We do not intend to reinvent the wheel (or tyre!) but to learn from others, shaping it for New Zealand conditions and circumstances.

To this end, a coalition of Stakeholders including major tyre companies, organisations representing new and used car importers, tyre recyclers, motor services, motorists, local government and supported by central government agreed to work towards a formal stewardship programme for end of life tyres in New Zealand.

The work (Tyrewise Project) commenced in early March 2012. The industry-led framework for a mandatory stewardship programme for end-of-life tyres was signed off and presented to then Minister for the Environment, Nick Smith, in August 2013. This was based on the then National Government taking the step to declare tyres as priority product using the provisions of the Waste Minimisation Act 2008.

A further review by KPMG to “Research economic barriers to tyre recycling in New Zealand” determined that the cost benefits of three options (‘status quo’, ‘bounded free market’ and ‘mandatory product stewardship’) met the net benefit test with the difference between them being “immaterial”.

In 2016, inviting applications to the Waste Minimisation Fund, the National government then proceeded with an investment strategy to secure markets for end-of-life tyres, any decision about declaring tyres as priority product until the results of this funding investment materialised. Funding was awarded to various projects in June 2017.

During the interim phase from completion of the project to an action taking place, the current working group for Tyrewise will continue to act in an advisory group capacity.

Find out more about the Tyrewise Project here.

For details on the current situation you can visit our news page.