Scrapping the scrap tyre stockpiles


Emily van Rijswijck

Government has approved a plan
which will address the growing
stockpile of scrap tyres accumulating
in the country with the Recycling and
Economic Development Initiative
of South Africa (Redisa).
(Image: Freefoto)

• Albi Modise
Department of Environmental Affairs
+27 83 490 2871
Hermann Erdmann
REDISA: Executive manager
+27 83 325 7888

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Government has approved a plan which will address the growing stockpile of scrap tyres accumulating in the country, while at the same time creating jobs in the sector where it is needed most: small, micro and medium enterprises.

The Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (Redisa) waste tyre management plan was gazetted in November 2011 by the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, and sets out a long-term solution for the country’s growing scrap tyre problem.

The plan will be implemented byRedisa, a non-profit organisation specially created for this purpose, and will function independently from the tyre manufacturing industry. The organisations involved in the plan include the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc), the Tyre Importers Association, the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry Youth Chamber, the South African Youth Economic Forum and the informal sector.

“The informal sector is specifically pulled into the process as it is currently disposing of the major portion of waste tyres in many undesirable ways and needs to be given an opportunity, training and support to enter into the formal recycling processes,” says Redisa on its official site.

Waste tyre levy

The plan is based on the principle that by attaching a monetary value to scrap tyres, the collection and recycling process of tyres will be promoted.

“Once [scrap tyres] have a value, individuals and small entrepreneurs will seek out and remove tyres from their community and deliver them to a collection point. A key element of the Redisa plan is that it will specifically and exclusively target the small and very small businesses,” Redisa notes.

The plan will be funded through a waste tyre management fee which will be levied on all tyres produced in South Africa or imported into the country.

“Local manufacturers and importers of tyres will be charged a fee of R2.30 per kilogram of tyres manufactured or imported into the country,” Redisa executive manager Hermann Erdmann confirmed during an RSG interview. The levy will come into effect in February 2012.

Through the plan a network of about 150 recycling depots will be established countrywide which will be leased to broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) entrepreneurs. Small BBBEE transporters will also be roped in to collect the tyres from the estimated 2 800 tyre collection sites in the country.

The plan will also have an educational component, teaching people the advantages of tyre care which can increase the lifespan of tyres by as much as 100%. Training and support of SMMEs and research and development will also be undertaken.

Molewa has indicated her satisfaction with the plan not only because it brings about environmental benefits but could create an estimated 10 000 new jobs in the informal and SMME sectors.

“These jobs are meaningful, sustainable jobs as there are opportunities for people to own businesses,” she notes in her letter of approval to the company.

Tyres as waste

There are an estimated 60-million scrap tyres lying in stockpiles around the country, some legal, some illegally dumped in the countryside. Another 10-million scrap tyres are added every year by the tyre industry.

Scrap tyres have little value, are expensive to recycle and pose a huge problem at landfill sites as they are hard to compact and tend to rise up through the waste. In many countries, a levy is placed on tyres at point of sale to support tyre recycling technology and infrastructure. In general, recycling of tyres is considered to be financially unviable, confirmed Erdmann.

Current recycling and re-use options include the re-treading of tyres and the use of tyres as fuel in cement kilns. The latter has obvious environmental and health implications. Processes are also available for separating the steel from the rubber. The steel is then recycled and the rubber turned into rubber crumb. A small proportion of scrap tyres are recycled in this way and the rubber re-used in landscaping and road-making applications.

South Africa’s Waste Management Act requires that within five years all categories of tyres must be included in the recycling or energy recovery process.

The Department of Environmental Affairs has an official website dedicated to waste management in South Africa. The South African Waste Information System (Sawis) was developed in 2005 to capture routine data on the tonnages of waste generated, recycled and disposed in country on a monthly and annual basis.