Mehran Zarrebini, Mathe Group. Photo: Mathe Group

In South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal-based Hammarsdale tire recycling facility belonging to the Mathe Group has increased fourfold the number of its staff and increased its output more than by 50% since the plant started operation in 2016, said the company.

Dr. Mehran Zarrebini, head of the UK-based investment group PFE International that serves as one of the biggest shareholders in the Mathe Group, predicts that even though the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (Redisa) had been liquidated in 2017, South African tire recycling industry would soon experience significant expansion.

The data from 2011 reveals that South Africa managed to recycle only 4% out of 246,631 of waste tires that had been generated by the state during that year.

Redisa’s mission was to promote scrap tire collection and recycling; the organization collected a fee whenever a new tire was acquired.

It is common to think in South Africa that tire recycling is not sustainable in the state due to insufficient demand for crumb rubber and high investments required for tire recycling facility to be set up.

Earlier, it was a challenge for small tire recycling business to rival with imported crumb rubber that was produced by those states and received funding from their authorities.

The Mathe Group represented one of those businesses. Five years ago, it began to manufacture little amounts of crumb rubber at a Durban-based facility in New Germany

After that, it began collaboration with PFE International. The companies launched the JV – the brand ensuring that Van Dyck Floors was supplied with crumb rubber from recycled tires.

Later, The Mathe Group relocated to Hammarsdale. In 2016, its new local R2-million tire recycling plant started operation and managed to recycle 65,000 tires in that year only.

The corporation managed to start serving more customers, so the supplies that the company provided to Van Dyck, began to represent just a tiny percent.

According to Zarrebini, the Mathe Group has not been affected by the Redisa’s closing.

He explained that waste truck tires are regularly delivered to tire recycling facility from storehouses controlled by the Waste Management Bureau; this organization will continue to be in charge of tire recycling and will stop being responsible for that after the officials construct a new tire recycling facility.

At present, the Mathe Group deals with up to 40 tons of scrap truck tires per month. On a monthly basis, approximately 600 tons of crumb rubber is manufactured by its Hammarsdale-based unit.

The business supplies approximately 15% of the manufactured crumb rubber to the Van Dyck Floors facility, in Prospecton, Durban.  The recycled product is applied in rubber flooring, paving and acoustic underlays for various types of flooring for global exports to 50 states.

Approximately 35% of recycled material is used in development of sport fields which use synthetic grass for such countries as South Africa, Zambia, Namibia, the Congo and Botswana. The road industry acquires half of all the manufactured products which are used in modified bitumen.

Additionally, the brand provides non-slip paint and special coverings, as well as tire retreaders.

Last year, the number of all recycled by the Mathe truck tires exceeded 150 000, and Zarrebini has no doubt that as many as 200,000 tires will be recycled in 2018.

Today, the corporation handles exclusively radial truck tires, which require three steps of crushing. Elements of various sizes, fit to be applied for different purposes, are produced by separators.

According to Zarrebini, some production limits may be introduced soon at the plant. Thus, he says, the corporation is looking for the ways to install a new line securing higher output and providing more flexible operation.

After that, the brand will be able to handle various types of tires, including car tire and truck tires of various sizes.

Moreover, the brand is looking for equipment capable of removing the main steel rim from the tires before the actual stage of recycling. The funds used for purchasing of baling equipment could lead to more effective operation.

Every 68 kg truck tire has high-tensile steel in it and it makes up to 20% of it. Magnets are used to remove this steel. The material is then placed into massive bags within 40-foot shipping containers by workers and exported to Australia and Korea. As many as three containers are dispatched each week. The materials are then used in the motor and shipping industries.

Hammarsdale-based tire recycling business expects to greatly benefit from a new shredder purchased in Australia.

According to Zarrebini, productiveness plays a vital role in tire recycling because substantial amount of energy is used to operate the plant. Thus, the company is always looking for the ways to reduce the electricity consumption and to produce more crumb rubber. Zarrebini said that the company keeps on searching for the ways to improve the production and provides training to the workers.

Most of the workers come from the closest to Hammarsdale area, which has high rates of unemployment.

When the facility in Hammarsdale started operation, the company recruited 35 more workers. The facility operates all day.

Article by Engineering News