New Tyre Recycling Legislation Scheme in Ireland

According to an article posted on The Irish Times Ireland is currently suffering from stockpiles of hundreds of thousands illegally disposed tyres, which are growing each year. The consumer, who already pays an upfront charge at the time of purchasing a tyre, in order for it to be properly disposed, needs to eventually pay a double cost. As a taxpayer, that same consumer must then fund the recovery and disposal efforts of local councils, who have to deal with the massive piles of waste tyres. irish article

The situation at the moment is, however, not as it has been planned. A legislation dating back to 2007, was supposed to ensure voluntary compliance with waste disposal regulations, either by registering with a central database or with the local council. However, according to Seamus Clancy, the chief executive of Repak ELT, the company which is now charged with solving the waste-tyre crisis, “the 2007 legislation should have been a full Producer Responsibility Initiative (PRI) scheme but it turned out to be a partial scheme and became very watered down. It just didn’t suit some of the cohorts in the industry and there was little enforcement”.

According to the Irish Times’ article, this is all about to change. The old legislation has been removed and the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government has brought in a new set of regulations, which will be overseen by Repak ELT, a separate entity to the well-known Repak organisation, which already deals with about 800,000 tonnes of waste and packaging every year.

Based on the new system, tyre manufacturers will pay €2.80 upfront for every tyre they introduce to the market, which is to cover the costs of recovery and recycling as well as the administration of the scheme. That €2.80 will be passed to the wholesaler, the retailer and eventually the consumer and, under the new system, will have to be itemized as a separate cost on each invoice, similar to the WEEE regulations on recycling electrical goods.

According to Clancy, “consumers are already paying on average between €1.50 and €3 per tyre for recycling charges, but those charges are not then being channeled into recovery and recycling. What usually happens is that the retailer pays around 80c per unit to a collection agent who takes the tyres away and then thinks, “I’ve paid someone and I’ve done my bit”. The problem then is that consumers are effectively paying for recycling and collection twice – because their taxes go to cover the cost of dealing with the illegal dumps.”

Clancy expects that the full PRI scheme will be up and running by the end of 2016, and that Repak ELT will use the next 12 months to complete its data gathering and begin educating both the public and the industry on the need for the scheme.

However, some industry representatives have already opposed the concept. The Independent Tyre Wholesalers and Retailers Association (ITWRA) has objected it and said that “there is an urgent need for an efficient system to control and handle waste tyres in Ireland. However, the Department has insisted on an option that will unnecessarily cost the Irish motorist in the region of €10 million additional per annum to administrate. […] Its going to be very expensive to run, and the average Irish car owner and haulage company are going to fund it by paying an additional €3 per car tyre to €30 per tyre for haulage operators to a centrally-run tyre-waste management quango. The ITWRA have made extensive submissions to the Department and to the Minister to show that much more efficient schemes are operating effectively such as the Responsible Recycler Scheme operated by Peter Taylor of the Tyre Recovery Association in the UK. This organisation handles over 40 million tyres in the UK at a fraction of the cost that it will take to handle Ireland’s tyre waste if the Department implements current proposals.”

Clancy rejects the ITWRA’s stance, saying that “there’s no extra cost to the consumer at all, as this is replacing the existing ad-hoc charge, which is mostly not being spent on recycling at all. Clearly there will be elements in the industry that do not want this, but the main tyre manufacturers have actually led this process across Europe, such as in Italy where they have a PRI scheme that is one of the best”.

The Irish Times article further states, that Repak ELT has estimated that there are as many as 100 illegal tyre dumps around the country. Part of the legislation allows for the creation of local environmental enforcement teams who will assess sites and who can levy penalties for non-compliance. Under the 2007 legislation, those penalties were “quite low and people didn’t take much notice of them”, says Clancy.

Additionally, new, stiffer penalties are also being worked out at the moment by the Department, as well as fees payable for users of larger tyres such as heavy goods vehicles and agricultural machinery.

In the meantime, the dangers of the existing piles of discarded tyres remains. Although they’re relatively inert, in an environmental sense they present a serious fire and smoke hazard. Repak ELT describes them as a “blight on the landscape and a safety issue” and also points out that, across Europe, the evidence shows that the charge for recycling tends to fall over the years, especially as some sectors of other industries have realised the potential value of recycled tyres, both as a source of material and to be burned for energy instead of fossil fuels.

Article source: The Irish Times

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