Tas Tyre Cleanup is a project of the Tasmanian Conservation Trust Inc.
In the 2012 report to the COAG Standing Council on Environment and Water, ‘Study into domestic and international fate of end-of-life tyres Final Report’, it was found that, in the year 2009–10, a total of 39,926,862 tyres (including car and truck tyres) across Australia reached the end of their working life. Only 9,582,693 tyres could actually be accounted for, with only about half of these (4,928,000) being recycled. Nearly 75% (30,344,169) of tyres disposed of each year could not be accounted for.
The report did not provide a breakdown of each state’s tyre use but, given Tasmania’s population is about one fortieth of Australia’s, we estimate that Tasmanians would dispose of about 1,000,000 tyres per year and 75% of these are not accounted for.
The Tasmanian Conservation Trust needs your help to clean up unwanted car tyres which have been dumped in bushland, on beaches and farmland, schoolyards and backyards, and elsewhere around Tasmania.
Based on a national report (see above), we estimate that Tasmanians dispose of about 1,000,000 car and truck tyres per year and 75% of these are not disposed of appropriately – either dumped in the environment or stored in backyards.
When we first discovered the scale of this problem we did not believe the numbers. Could so many people be dumping tyres or storing them inappropriately? So we started looking for car tyres.
In just a few months we have confirmed the existence of 20 large tyre dumps, from 50 to over 1000 tyres per site, and totalling about 5,000 tyres. All but three of these sites are in the south of Tasmania. Other reported sites remain to be verified.
These figures do not include small stockpiles (fewer than 20 tyres) in backyards. While letterboxing in one Hobart suburb (delivering information on the car tyre clean-up project), just from casual observations we estimated that one in 20 backyards contained at least one (and up to 12) used tyres.
Car and truck tyres are an eyesore but, more importantly, they create a fire hazard that should be removed. Burning car tyres can contaminate soil and waterways and produce toxic fumes, and is a great waste of potentially valuable resources.
The TCT will collaborate with landowners to collect unwanted or hazardous car tyres.
When we clean-up car tyre dumps, we prefer the tyres to be recycled. We are currently working with a mainland company, which appears to be the industry leader in recycling and reusing tyres to collect tyres in Tasmania. Where recycling is not possible, the tyres will be safely and legally stored until they can be recycled. We will send tyres to legal landfill as a last resort, but this is still preferable to leaving them elsewhere in the environment.
We will advocate for no disposal into landfill once better options are available.
The TCT has to pay the recycling company $4 to collect a standard car tyre (more for larger tyres). At the moment we are entirely dependent on community donations to cover this cost. We are looking for corporate sponsorship but this is likely to be on a dollar-for-dollar basis, so we must raise half the funds.
As well as cleaning up tyres, the project aims to prevent dumping of tyres, by raising awareness of the problems caused by tyres being inappropriately stored or disposed of and by identifying recycling options for all end-of-life tyres in Tasmania.
We have heard claims that some mechanics are dumping tyres so we will work with appropriate industry and government bodies to develop appropriate disposal solutions.