Recycling process possible solution to waste tyres

15th February 2013 By: Zandile Mavuso - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Features

Africa’s largest recycling group, Reclam, in part- nership with rubber com- pounder Heever Rubber & Tyre (HRT), believes that its new recycled-rubber technology process could possibly help meet South Africa’s tyre recycling targets in an environment-friendly manner.

The country generates about 11-million scrap tyres a year, which end up in landfills or the veld, or are illegally burned for their scrap steel content, creating a growing health and environ- mental challenge, says the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

For this reason, government initiated the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (Redisa), which aims to remove waste tyres from the South African environment through subsidising the collection and recycling process by attaching a value to the collection of scrap tyres. This will encourage individuals and small entrepreneurs to remove tyres from their communities and deliver them to collection points, says the DEA.

“Reclam and HRT’s patented process is the first of its type in the world. Our associate and CEO of HRT, Piet van den Heever, who developed the process, has been conducting research and development together with Reclam for over 15 years and has perfected this revolutionary new technology, which will revolutionise the world’s rubber manufacturing industry.

“The process does not create any harmful emissions and the resulting rubber product is now being used in the manufacture of new rubber products,” says Reclam COO Harry Kassel.

Reclam and HRT have used the process on waste tyres and have produced a compound that eliminates the environmentally negative aspect of tyre recycling. Kassel adds that the resulting product has become something of a ‘cradle-to-cradle’ process that is 100% environment friendly.

“Our first commercial plant, which will be launched later this year, in Gauteng, will be able to recycle 1 000 t/m of tyres,” adds Kassel.

HRT has to date successfully made solid rubber tyres using 100% HRT rubber compound. These tyes are being used on forklift trucks and are proving to be a premium solid forklift truck tyre.

Forklift tyre manufacturer SA Rubber Engineering MD Alec Stewart, who has assisted HRT in preparing the rubber compound for the manufacture of solid tyres, says, compared with previously manufactured rubber compounds, the HRT compound is more cost efficient. “Production quantities are increased on account of the HRT compound’s excellent flow and quick-curing properties,” says Stewart, who produces solid rubber tyres using the HRT rubber compound.
“We are hoping to invite the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs to the launch of our commercial plant later this year and we hope to demonstrate to her the benefits of this initiative, which is a viable solution to the recycling of tyres in our country and the rest of the world,” says Kassel.

The Redisa Integrated Industry Waste Tyre Management Plan (IIWTMP) was initiated by government to reduce the number of scrap tyres impacting on the environment.

However, tyre manufacturers have appealed against the technical aspects of the plan, which has delayed its implementation.

The retail motor industry lodged an appeal against the Redisa plan, which was approved by the DEA, owing to the proposed waste tyre management fee and on the grounds that para- graph 15.1 of the plan was not published for comment.

The paragraph outlines waste reduction targets that entail the processing of 30 000 t/y of waste tyres using existing waste tyre processors within 12 months, 90 000 t/y of waste tyres within 24 months, 150 000 t/y of waste tyres within 36 months and 400 000 t/y of waste tyres within 60 months.

However, the North Gauteng High Court delivered a judgment on November 20, 2012, which suggested that the plan be regazetted without paragraph 15.1 for immediate implementation.

In December 2012, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa approved a new Redisa IIWTMP for immediate implementation. The plan replaces the original Redisa plan that was suspended in terms of the interdict that was granted in November, 2012.

“We are very pleased that the Minister has taken such prompt action to resolve the chaos that the plan’s suspension was causing in the tyre industry. “The suspension of the plan, pending a review application, meant that the industry would have been in a state of uncertainty for months, not knowing if a waste-tyre management fee was going to have to be paid,” says Redisa CEO Hermann Erdmann.

A key element of the Redisa plan is that it will specifically and exclusively target small and microenterprises. The aim is to deal with the waste tyre problem, while creating jobs in areas where they are needed the most – in the informal and small, medium-sized and microenterprise (SMME) sectors.

A network of collection depots and recyclers will be established and part of the operating cost of the Redisa plan will be allocated to training and supporting associated SMMEs. Other portions of the cost will be allocated to research and development to create recycling processes.