REDISA remediates 21,677 tonnes of tyre waste since commencing operations

Submitted by: Jonathan Ramayia, Thursday, May 8, 2014

<p>21,677 tonnes of waste tyres have been remediated since July 2013</p>

21,677 tonnes of waste tyres have been remediated since July 2013

21,677 tonnes of tyre waste has been remediated since the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (REDISA) became operational in July 2013.  REDISA is responsible for implementing the Integrated Industry Waste Tyre Management Plan (IIWTMP), which requires manufacturers and importers to pay a waste management fee of R2.30 +VAT per kilogramme of tyre made or imported in the country. Tyres that are remediated are extracted from the waste system and are set aside for recycling at a later stage.

REDISA aims to have a 100% tyre recycling rate by the end of 2017

The first waste tyre management fee payments were made at the end of May 2013 and since then a total of R575 million has been collected by REDISA, a not for profit company (NPC), to fund waste tyre management in South Africa.

According to the NPC, 99.8% of all tyre importers and manufacturers have subscribed to pay the waste tyre management fee. In addition 1,638 tyre dealers are registered with REDISA.  Currently REDISA is supplying waste management services to 580 of those dealers.

Subscribers and revenue

“As per the approved plan, subscribers are required to declare what they have produced or imported via the returns submission. Invoices are then generated based on these returns,” explained REDISA Director Stacey Davidson. The number of subscribers fluctuates each month depending on ad hoc importing which occur as a result of once-off projects that require tyres to be imported into the country.

The Plan estimates that revenues from these subscriptions would be around R650 million per year based on an annual average of 275,000 tonnes of tyres. That figure was estimated based on tyre manufacturing and import figures, looking at trends from previous years, said Davidson, “but depending on what the market does, the revenue would fluctuate.”

Establishing a system for waste tyre management

Apart from subscribers, or tyre manufacturers and importers, one of the key players in the tyre recycling industry are the tyre dealers, who generally have large quantities of used and  waste tyres at their premises. REDISA has to date registered 1,638 tyre dealers on the system, as potential collection points.

“Tyre dealers benefit because prior to REDISA, they needed to pay for people to collect their waste. It was their [tyre dealers’] responsibility to deal with waste tyre disposal, and since they were utilising independent transporters could not ensure that disposals were done responsibly.  Through the plan REDISA can now ensure that this service is offered to dealers giving them the comfort that their waste is dealt with responsibly” explained Davidson.

It is the responsibility of the tyre dealer to register with REDISA so they can become a collection point, “if you do not register with us, we do not know what you are generating as waste tyres, therefore, we cannot provide you with the logistical infrastructure to ensure waste is carted away. Once tyre dealers register, we know the waste they are generating and can deal with this,” said Davidson.

REDISA cautions that registering on the system doesn’t mean that dealers’ waste tyres will be carted away immediately, rather the idea is to grow the number of serviced tyre dealers, year on year as part of the five year implementation plan. In the interim, tyre dealers are encouraged to continue with their existing mechanisms to dispose of their tyres as per legislation. The number of tyre dealers currently being serviced across the country stands at 580 with REDISA setting itself a target of 853 dealers for 2014. “We are currently just below the halfway mark for our 2014 target,” said Davidson.

Midrand Depot handles 50 tonnes of tyre waste daily

REDISA has acknowledged that to set up a national logistic system is one of the bigger challenges in the entire plan, saying that the most costly part of any waste management plan is the reverse engineering of the product distribution networks. So far REDISA has spent a “fortune in developing the infrastructure to monitor and control distribution of waste tyres and ensure that they are allocated to processing plants that can handle these tyres,” says Davidson.

More recently, REDISA opened two tyre ‘depots’, the Midrand depot in Gauteng and Vissershok depot in the Western Cape, and is in the process of opening up another depot in Pinetown in KZN. Tyre depots act as central storage facilities before being moved to recycling plants. All three depots are owned by REDISA, with a view to transfer ownership to entrepreneurs in future. Davidson says that once the depots are economically viable, they would transfer the ownership to the identified depot operator, calling it “too risky” for budding entrepreneurs since it hasn’t been done before. The importance of this is to ensure that the person is inheriting a fully functional and viable business, and is equipped with the processes and skills necessary to continue this success, explains Davidson.

The Midrand depot receives 50 tonnes of waste tyres daily and serves as a hub for the delivery of waste tyres collected in Midrand, Fourways, Centurion, Tembisa, Sandton and Edenvale. From the depot the waste tyres are taken to REDISA-registered and approved tyre recycling companies to be turned into other products.

Apart from the Midrand depot REDISA plans to open 30 depots by the end of 2014

REDISA aims to open an additional thirty depots across all provinces in the country by the end of 2014 and apart from serving as a storage or transfer site may also be sites where shredding or bailing takes place before being transported to recyclers.

According to Davidson, by the end of the five years, the distribution networks will run smoothly so that the process from getting the waste from collection points to recycling plants or depots is an easy one. She adds that the ideal scenario would be to transport waste tyres directly from dealers to recycling centres, but given the locations this won’t always be possible, hence the need for storage facilities.

In terms of transport of waste tyres, REDISA has a team that specialises in transport optimisation, and the management of the transport networks. “We have existing transporters that have been contracted to service the tyre dealers. The system is sophisticated, we have routes that have been pre-planned and we look at most optimum routes to ensure that the environmental impact of transportation is minimal,” said Davidson.

Recycling and secondary markets

According to REDISA, there are eight tyre recyclers in South Africa, with an additional twelve processing plants approved. REDISA is currently undergoing a request for proposal process to establish more recycling centres where waste tyres will be sent to the collection points or depots.

Some recyclers have been on the scene before REDISA and Davidson indicates that REDISA will not dictate how recyclers run their businesses, “we are here to support and enhance the existing recycling industry, so we can provide information and support relating to the existing technologies. We don’t advocate any particular method for recycling,” she said, however REDISA was aware of which methods have higher resource efficiencies and greater economic viability.

Davidson also noted the importance of engaging with South African-owned recyclers, “any [recycling] businesses we engage with has to be 51% black-owned as per the approved plan, so international companies who have the technologies are required to establish partnerships with local representatives to ensure that the plan is complied with. This will encourage growth in the manufacturing sector through the processing of the waste into as a finished product,” she said.

Of the existing recycling and processing plants various recyclers have their own off-take agreements,  ranging from exports of output products to selling to local manufacturers who make their own products, such as astro-turf, roof tiles and other rubber-based products.

REDISA has however not delved in the secondary industry research yet and development is still being conducted in this area and the market is being “looked at more closely,” says Davidson. “Research relating to the beneficiation of waste tyres from recycling with Stellenbosch University is in full swing, with eight bursaries granted to students in the programme. We’ll start to see the fruits of this research and have local specialists to lead the industry,” she added.

REDISA has also piloted a waste picker programme in Tshwane and in Soweto where a quota of tyres is allocated to an individual picker or a cooperative (a team of pickers). At present REDISA aims to have 1,000 waste pickers registered on the system by the end of April who will start collecting waste tyres, mainly from landfill sites. Previously, tyres on their own weren’t seen as valuable to informal waste pickers, rather tyres were burnt and the steel extracted, but now waste pickers are seeing the value in the entire tyre, explains Davidson, “we needed to incentivise the collection and delivery of tyres to reduce the number of tyres being burnt as a means to derive income,” she adds.

To make public the progress of the programme thus far, REDISA has embarked on roadshows to communicate the milestones and achievements to date. This includes the tonnage of tyres remediated, jobs created, tyre dealer services, depots opened as well as other indicators.

REDISA also expects to grow tyre recycling statistics in South Africa, saying that a lot of energy has gone into collating information, “there were never statistics around waste tyres. We needed to establish what the supply and demand patterns of waste tyres are to ensure that adequate networks are developed,” said Davidson. The one statistic provided by the Department of Environmental Affairs  is that 4% of waste tyres are recycled in South Africa, a figure that REDISA looks to increase to 100% by the end of 2017, said Davidson.

To keep updated with sustainability news subscribe to the fortnightly Urban Earth Newsletter.

Jonathan Ramayia