New Zealand’s North Canterbury has a huge end-of-life tire stockpile, which has been attracting public attention over the last years and grew into a big problem. Efforts to clean up the stockpile have picked up pace with two parties who are now in a competition race. Press reports that the tire stockpile has been a concern for the community for more than four years, and it was deliberately set alight in 2018. Both removal bids have Environment Canterbury (ECan) backing. New Zealand’s magazine Stuff reports that “Community-led group Accountability Action was formed in response to a lack of action by authorities and enforcement breaches by the companies responsible for the tires, Tyre Recycling Services New Zealand Ltd and 2016 Tyre Shredding Ltd.”

The magazine reports that the committee was realistically one of two funding streams available for this type of clean-up. Another source was the New Zealand Government's Waste Minimisation Fund, applications to which closed recently.

The group's founders, Julia McLean and Bruce Gledhill, said they had applied to the Canterbury Waste Joint Committee (CWJC) for $40,000 towards the removal of the tires from the Amberley site, Stuff reports.

According to the magazine, McLean said that the total cost would become clearer once the job was under way. Several big players were on board, as well as Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ), which recognized the risks of leaving piles of tires around, she said. Swire Shipping had agreed to transport the shredded tires in containers to Golden Bay Cement, which in turn would take them for use in its kilns. The Hurunui District Council had agreed to act as legal entity for the group in a show of support for the project.

Also, the magazine reports that ECan chair Jenny Hughey said the regional council fully supported Accountability Action's applications to both the CWJC and the Waste Minimisation Fund. With all the work the group had put in, McLean said she was blindsided to hear the landowner was backing a second application to the fund, and even more surprised to hear ECan supported it. While the expressions of interest are not made public, the landowner's lawyer, Richard Smith, said his client was collaborating with ECan in another application to the Waste Minimisation Fund. "That application was drafted collaboratively between the applying party and the landowner."

The lawyer said while the landowner was open to working with Accountability Action in the future, the group had not provided enough confidence in its business plan. Smith added that the plan was to shred the tires. He said sending them to India would be "the last option''. ECan northern zone lead Andrew Arps would neither confirm nor deny the authority's collaborative funding application with the landowner, saying he had been advised any media commentary could be "detrimental to an application’s success''.

"As such, we are not in a position to confirm, but note that we support any application or efforts that can contribute funding to this problem and will seek to work with any party able to assist.'' Gledhill said he was "perplexed and bamboozled'' to hear ECan may be behind a second expression of interest to the same fund, for the same issue, and said things were "anything but transparent". It was another example of the "broken system", and made the regional council look foolish, he said. ECan began investigating the pile in 2017, and it has been the subject of Environment Court proceedings since. They were stockpiled by Michael Le Roy, who was at the time collecting them for Tyre Recycling Services New Zealand Ltd and 2016 Tyre Shredding Ltd.

To learn more about the subject, please read the full article in New Zealand’s magazine Stuff.