SATMC to focus on proactive steps to combat waste tyres, industry challenges

15th February 2023 By: Schalk Burger - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

SATMC to focus on proactive steps to combat waste tyres, industry challenges

Industry organisation the South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC) says its top priorities for this year are to take proactive steps in concert with its members and in collaboration with supply chain and government partners to overcome the challenges facing the industry, including poor waste tyre collection and recycling rates and unreliable electricity supply.

SATMC chairperson and tyre manufacturer Sumitomo Rubber South Africa CEO Lubin Ozoux noted during a February 15 briefing that the goal of the organisation was to ensure a stable and sustainable tyre manufacturing industry in South Africa.

The organisation commits to being proactive in working with all stakeholders to address challenges facing its members.

"We can maintain South Africa’s position as the key automotive hub in Africa, which will require close collaboration with government, automotive sector players and other industry associations to ensure a policy environment conducive to the competitiveness and sustainability of local manufacturing," Ozoux said.

Infrastructure availability was essential for competitiveness and the SATMC would work to ensure fewer disruptions to operations in the future, he said.

"We are leveraging broader industry participation and collaboration on a number of important issues to find common objectives and accelerate change, including electricity, road, port and rail Infrastructure challenges and opportunities, through consultation and stakeholder engagements across the public and private sectors," he added.

Additionally, the SATMC's members are committed to finalising the Industry Waste Management Plan for Tyres this year and developing and implementing a clear roadmap to reduce carbon emissions in the sector.

"We recognise the importance of reducing our carbon footprint and the role that the tyre industry can play in addressing climate change for the sake of future generations.

"Our aim is to develop a tyre industry position on carbon tax and we are working closely with our members to identify and implement best practices that will help us achieve our carbon reduction targets," Ozoux said.

Further, the SATMC views waste management as a critical focus area and acknowledges that it is a major challenge facing the tyre industry because waste tyres have a negative environmental impact.

“We are collaborating with the Tyre Importers Association of South Africa, the Tyre Equipment Parts Association and government to ensure that steps are taken to drive improvements and sustainability in collection and processing of tyre waste,” he said.

The SATMC and its members are committed to reducing the negative impact of waste tyres and are working with various stakeholders to develop and implement effective waste tyre management solutions.

"Our aim is to advocate for a Waste Tyre Management Plan that will serve the tyre industry value chain. However, we must find the correct commercial solution to the disposal of these waste tyres by examining the whole value chain. This is the only way for the matter to gain traction," he noted.

The Waste Bureau, which is currently tasked with the collection of waste tyres, has limited resources, which compromises its capability to provide the tyre sector with a reliable service. The result is waste tyres pile up and pose fire risks to businesses, he pointed out.

However, the SATMC's members, including their broader global parent companies, are exploring new technologies and innovative solutions that can help them to reduce the environmental impact of waste tyres while also creating economic opportunities for industry stakeholders.

The industry is exploring the commercial prospects for waste tyres with the aim of supporting enterprise development and job creation in a circular economy, Ozoux said.

The materials recovered from recycling waste tyres can be used in various industries, and tyre manufacturers are exploring the use of more recycled and/or more sustainable materials in tyres.

However, the quality of the recovered materials was important in manufacturing processes and the quantity of demand for materials recovered from waste tyres needed to be sufficient for local recyclers to build processing plants, said tyre manufacturer Bridgestone South Africa MD Jacques Rikhotso.

South Africa's tyre manufacturers can form part of a local ecosystem of users of common materials and thereby serve as a supply base. This will create demand capacity for industry to supply.

"We require our suppliers to provide us with details on how much recycled materials are used in the products we source from them. The more recycled materials we can safely and efficiently use in our processes, the more it will benefit the recycling industry," he said.

Additionally, once better collection, transportation and storage of used tyres was in place, it would help the broader industry to investigate various technologies that were maturing to recycle the tyres more effectively. From this point, manufacturers could get more materials from recycled tyres, which would help to develop the value chain and complete the recycling loop, he added.

Tyre manufacturer Continental Tyre South Africa MD Matt Livigni highlighted that tyre collection and recycling was the start of building an ecosystem that could create jobs in the circular economy.

Further, the SATMC is working closely with tyre dealers to encourage proper storage of waste tyres.

"Dealers need to be aware of the regulations governing their storage of these scraps. For example, it is required that a dedicated waste tyre storage area, not exceeding 500 m2, be set up by the dealer. In addition, no single pile of waste tyres may exceed a height of 3 m, a length of 20 m and a width of 10 m, and the waste storage plan must be approved by the municipal fire department," noted Ozoux.

"As the SATMC, we are committed to promoting responsible practices among dealers, and protecting the interests of the entire tyre value chain."

Meanwhile, the industry had long been advocating for a process that would cater for the processing of end-of-life tyres, said SATMC managing executive Nduduzo Chala.

The SATMC is also lobbying in relation to second-hand tyres or part-worn tyres, which remain unregulated in the country, posing a serious safety risk for road commuters.

“Therefore, among our priority areas is the need to ensure that there is a part-worn tyre standard developed through the South African Bureau of Standards and to challenge the importation of second-hand passenger casings into the country, as these end up on our roads, becoming not only an environmental hurdle but, more importantly, a safety risk,” he said.