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Pirelli calls for Australian government action

Second life: Ten per cent of tyres discarded in Australia each year are being recycled, with their resulting products including asphalt, which has various applications.

Tyre recycling, imports behind Pirelli’s request for Australian government involvement

13 Nov 2019

PIRELLI Tyres Australia says the Australian government needs to provide tyre-makers with further support for their ongoing recycling efforts, while it has also asked for legislation to be introduced on tyre imports as industry-held safety concerns have been left unaddressed.


Speaking to journalists this week in Melbourne, Pirelli Tyre CCO of north-east Asia and Pacific Dimitrios Papadakos said that the Italian tyre-maker is “very sensitive” when it comes to the environment, noting that “our production is completely green, we have almost zero impact”.


He added that several years ago Pirelli changed its tyre compound to a greener mix “to try and protect the environment as much we can”.


Mr Papadakos also said that Pirelli aims to recycle the same number of tyres that it sells, although finding buyers for the resulting products, such as asphalt, has proven challenging.


“The most difficult thing is how to supply this product in the market, because there are many products that are coming out of the tyre,” he said.


“The main problem that we face, all of us, is to find the right decision-makers in each country to make the decisions and use these products.


“For many, many countries, it’s very cheap to use the products from the recycled tyres, but nobody takes this decision, they prefer to stand around.”


While Pirelli Tyres Australia is a member of tyre industry recycling body Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), its managing director, Pierre-Olivier Chevalier, said their efforts are limited without further involvement from the Australian government.


“Today, we are really (pushing) for more support from the Australian government,” he said. “We are extremely committed to (recycling), but for the moment, we think the Australian government could do a bit more.”


Other TSA members include Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear Dunlop, Kumho, Michelin, Toyo and Yokohama as well as the first new-vehicle importer to come onboard, Volkswagen Group Australia.


In Australia alone, 56 million tyres are discarded each year, equating to 450,000 tonnes of materials, of which just 10 per cent are recycled locally.


Mr Chevalier also expressed his concern regarding the lack of restrictions on tyre imports in Australia, pointing out that it threatens the safety of road users.


“Basically, someone today can import tyres made 10, 15 years ago – there are no restrictions. Someone can import tyres used somewhere else in the world – there are no restrictions, which – by the way – in terms of safety, represents some concerns shared by my colleagues in the country,” he said.


“We are obviously in touch with the Australian government and the different states in order to put in place stronger legislation because the priority is environment, sure, but first is the safety of all drivers in Australia – that’s our commitment.”


Asked what he would like such legislation to look like, Mr Chevalier said it should ensure only newer tyres are stocked, while lower-quality rubber should be evaluated before being allowed to go on sale.


“In many countries in the world, tyres with a certain age – two, three, four years old, depending on the (legislation) – you’re not all allowed to import or to sell them, so that’s something we would like to potentially see in Australia,” he said.


“In terms of imports today, we are making premium products because we have premium production facilities. We are sticking to certain standouts, which is not the case of all the products.


“Sometimes we have products coming from the third world, which are not fully compliant with what should be a safety product for Australia.


“There are many examples all around the world where some countries have already put some strong legislation, and we are working, of course, with my peers and the Australian government in order to copy some good examples to be applied here.


“It will come.”


Mr Papadakos indicated that Europe and North America are the most advanced markets when it comes to this legislation, with Mr Chevalier explaining that they generally use three main safety criteria for tyre safety.


“We are using the braking distances, the grip in wet conditions, and the rolling resistance (in these countries) … to define if the tyres comply or not with the local legislation,” he said.


“It’s not the case here, even if we have a bit of snow in the mountains, but … in certain parts of Europe, anywhere in the US, (it) is mandatory to fit winter tyres in winter seasons.”

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