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Tyre stewardship scheme targets car-makers

Big issue: Some 50 million tyres require disposal in Australia ever year, putting the onus on industry – including car companies – to consider responsible recycling practices.

Ambitious targets in place for tyre recycling scheme to bring car companies on board

General News logo11 Jun 2018

TYRE Stewardship Australia (TSA) plans to have 90 per cent of all vehicle importers and manufacturers as participants in the voluntary, industry-led tyre recycling scheme within the next 10 years – up from zero today. 
 
Launched in 2014, the not-for-profit TSA was granted authorisation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) late last month to continue to run the stewardship scheme for another six years, building on the work already underway in reducing the number of end-of-life tyres damaging the environment via landfill, illegal dumping or undesirable export.
 
In announcing the authorisation, ACCC commissioner Roger Featherston said the consumer watchdog would closely monitor the scheme’s ongoing performance over the next six years, noting that “if participation by mining companies and vehicle importers in the scheme does not improve, we would urge governments to consider regulation”.
 
The TSA has eight major tyre importers as members – Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear/Dunlop, Kumho, Michelin, Pirelli, Toyo and Yokohama – along with around 1320 tyre retail outlets, 28 tyre recyclers/collectors, four fleet operators and three local government organisations.
 
But there are no mining companies on board and none of the 50-plus light vehicle importers or circa 20 commercial vehicle brands. 
 
A major plank in TSA’s revised guidelines is to increase the percentage of vehicle importers and manufacturers in the scheme to 50 per cent by 2020, 75 per cent by 2023 and 90 per cent by 2028.
 
TSA chief executive Dale Gilson told GoAuto that this will be measured by market share of total new-vehicle sales, so TSA will concentrate its efforts on the leading mass-market brands.
 
“The target of 50 per cent is a target measured by market share,” he said. “Consequently, we will initially focus on the largest market participants.
 
“We aspire to achieve the 50 per cent representation by 2020 but, as membership involves both financial and operational commitments, we recognise that individual discussions will take some time.
 
“Naturally, we aim to turn those discussions into memberships as soon as is practical.”
 
Mr Gilson said the scheme’s “immediate priority” from the outset was obviously to get the major tyre importers involved, but “as the scheme has grown and gained validity, car companies, amongst other organisations, will naturally now be a focus of the expansion of the scheme”.
 
Asked what TSA was doing to get car companies on board, Mr Gilson said: “We recognise that the automotive import market is just as competitive as the tyre replacement market. Therefore, with each of the car companies we will approach there will be a tailored engagement program. 
 
“OEM-fitted tyres are the second largest source of import of new tyres into Australia. Consequently, vehicle importing is a sector that is of importance to TSA in ensuring that the tyres that come into Australia are sustainably managed for their whole lifecycle. 
 
“We know that car dealerships’ increasingly broad service offering includes the replacement of tyres. Therefore, car companies and their dealerships do play a significant role in the tyre supply to disposal market. A role that is, naturally, of interest to TSA.
 
“We have opened the communication between TSA and car companies. We have had direct dialogue with industry participants and are working to ensure that those businesses understand the various brand, economic and environmental benefits of joining TSA.”
 
Mr Gilson said TSA had held “an initial discussion” with the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) – the car industry’s peak representative body – “to make them aware of our longer term-goals in relation to car company participation”.
 
“Whilst they have been supportive, the decision on participation is up to the individual car companies and therefore involvement will emerge from the discussions we have with each car company,” he said. 
 
“As a voluntary scheme, we are certainly looking at all players in the market to be part of the industry-led solution. Tyres come in all sizes, so we will be looking at addressing tyres on both light and heavy vehicles.”
 
As with the tyre importers, car companies will be required to deal only with other accredited participants in the tyre supply chain and pay a levy of 25 cents per tyre, which raises funds to find and promote new uses for end-of-life tyres. 
 
These include a variety of applications in civil engineering – high-performance wall systems, for example – and using recycled tyre-derived products such as crumbs and granules for use in pavements, roads, playground surfaces, and much more. 
 
Mr Gilson said the financial impost with the voluntary scheme was much less than would be required if regulations were put in place. 
 
“The international landscape offers many examples of co-regulatory and mandatory schemes, some more successful than others,” he said. 
 
“The common feature of mandatory or regulated schemes is that they all cost the impacted companies and the consumer much more than the very modest costs of a voluntary scheme such as ours.
 
“The headway we have made suggests that we have the potential for our co-operative scheme to succeed, to a degree that a mandatory or regulatory program will not be necessary. 
 
“It is in all market participants’ interest, and that of our environment, to ensure that this scheme succeeds.”
 
Mr Gilson added that the organisation had already begun to engage with individual car retailers, with two Victorian Toyota dealerships – Brighton and Mentone – recently becoming TSA-accredited tyre suppliers. 
 
“Car dealerships’ service offerings include the replacement of tyres – therefore, they play a role in tyre supply to disposal chain,” he said.
 
“It is logical that car and truck dealerships will be looked at as market players who should be participating in the scheme. We will continue our outreach to the car dealer network.”

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