Instead of using millions of granted funds on finding a method to sustainably recycle tires, a company Waste Management simply discarded scrap tires at a landfill.

On May 8, the enterprise hired a special truck that had been loaded with shredded tires collected at the Kerepihi tire yard, which were delivered to a landfill controlled by Waste Management.

According to Waste Management national manager Marsha Cadman, the process of tire dumping at landfills was terminated as the company has already launched and started operating a new Wiri-based facility for tire-recycling.

The plant managed to receive $3.8 million in funding via Waste Minimisation Fund grant, which became available to Pacific Rubber three years ago. These funds had been redirected to Waste Management after its purchase of the company in 2017.

It was expected that the funds would help to commission a tire recycling facility in Wiri.

Cadman explained that before the plant was commissioned, landfill received a tiny percent of tires for dumping while the facility was operating, though Waste Management’s representative did not provide any specific data.

When the plant was not fully operational, it was crucial to follow consent conditions, thus, it was obligatory to shred and dispose of the tires at a landfill, Cadman explained. However, now, when the facility’s commissioning is completed and all the conditions are met, these procedures are not required anymore, the national manager added.

According to claims made by Waste Management’s ex-workers, thousands of tons of tires have been left at landfill.

Photo: David White, Stuff

Up to 5 million tires dumped at the Kerepehi tire are expected to be cleared by Waste Management during this month. The scrap tires will be loaded in trucks and will be sent to Auckland where they will be shredded.

There is no exact statistics on how large the proportion of dumped tires had been.

According to Associate Environment Minister, Eugenie Sage, tire-dumping at landfills is totally legal, however, it is important to find a way to solve the tire issue.

Some current statistics show that about 70 percent of end of life tires often end up being stored in a landfill, accumulated or dumped in an unlawful way instead of being recycled using sustainability principles.

The Ministry of the Environment can benefit from collaboration with Waste Management, added Cadman. The company is planning to launch two tire recycling facilities; the first one is set to start operation in the nearest time.

Once the plants start operation, Waste Management will have an annual recycling capacity of 30,000 tons of tires; this number will represent 3 million of tires. Annually, New Zealand generates 5 million waste tires.

Ex-worker Tara Larking shared her view that the company did not act in accordance with the principles of the Waste Minimisation Fund and Bridgestone that served as Waste Management’s contractor.

She explained that Bridgestone does not support the idea of keeping their tires at landfill.

Before tire collection process began, Bridgestone had made it clear that it did not want to keep its tires at a landfill, as it preferred the solution of tire recycling, another informed source explained. This source added that the company demanded that their tires should not have been exported, so the public could be aware of the situation with tires. However, Waste Management had subcontracted out the job sometimes with an aim to hide information on where the waste tires would be sent.

Waste Management denied that it allowed contractors to subcontract. Illegal tire disposal has already turned into a serious issue in New Zealand, as the practice poses some life threats. Moreover, leakage of heavy metals is a result of improper used tires disposal.

Waste Management does not provide comments regarding the contract with Bridgestone to maintain confidentiality.

According to Bridgestone Australia and New Zealand managing director Andrew Moffatt said, the company always promotes tire recycling and reuse, and its main concern is the end of life tire control. To create an effective infrastructure which could allow proper removal and tire recycling, the company works in association with Waste Management New Zealand.

He said that waste tire management and tire recycling is not so advanced in New Zealand as in other developed countries. However, the managing director expressed hope that the state officials will use old recommendations of Tyrewise and will advance national tire recycling.

The developed country which could be looked up to is Canada, as it managed to come across a solution which effectively handled the deteriorating tire issue in the state. According to Canadian Association of Tire Recycling Agencies, in 2016, almost 100 percent of used tires had been transformed into recycled products, which were often used as tire-derived fuel, or as an additive to rubberized asphalt in road construction. In 2016, the overall quantity of all tires collected was estimated at 386,035 tons.

Article by Stuff