Several environmental and other management issues relate to used tyres, while legislation controls the storage, handling, transport and disposal of used tyres.
Several activities can be undertaken to reduced wear and tear on tyres including:
Ensuring correct tyre pressure is maintained for the road conditions on which a vehicle operates
- Conducting periodic wheel alignments to support even tyre wear
- Attending to a vehicle’s suspension and brakes when it is serviced
- Choosing a type of tyre that is appropriate for a vehicle’s operating conditions and amount of use.
Businesses can assist purchasers of tyre products and associated services, by informing them that vehicle safety and whole of life vehicle costs may be improved when unnecessary wear and tear on tyres is avoided, while reduced tyre wear can also reduce used tyre waste.
Businesses involved in tyre retail and associated services can support used tyre waste avoidance by offering a free or discounted wheel alignment and tyre pressure adjustment several months after a tyre sale to extend the life of tyres.
Also brand owners could support activities to reduce tyre wear and tear by partnering with tyre businesses through promotional discounts on maintenance services.
Apart from producing retreads from used tyres, which has an existing market (especially for mining equipment and larger vehicles), re-use includes:
- Marine applications, such as jetty guards
- Uses in drainage structures
- Use of tyres in civil engineering applications
- Equestrian applications, where tyres are used for guards.
Anyone attempting any significant re-use of used tyres (normally when more than 100 used tyres exist at a single premises), should firstly seek advice from the Department of Environment Regulation to confirm the intended re-use application is appropriate and is not used tyre storage, which is controlled under Western Australian legislation.
Tyre recycling re-uses the component parts of a tyre to produce new products such as:
- Ground rubber for playground surfaces
- Reconstituted rubber tiles for flooring
- Steel within tyres has a multitude of potential uses.
At present there is limited potential to recycle the increasing numbers of used tyres being generated in Western Australia, as local recyclers are operating close to capacity. In the interim period, any used tyres that are not being managed by existing tyre recyclers are either being stored in dedicated tyre storage facilities or are disposed of in certain specific landfills.
However, with the likely introduction of an Australia wide product stewardship scheme for used tyres in the near future, longer term recycling capacity should increase, as the scheme aims to provide a means to support more tyre recycling across Australia. As new information about the scheme becomes available it will be linked on this site to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population & Communities.
Businesses involved in the motor trades should contact the Motor Trades Association for information about emerging additional tyre recycling options.
Please note: the transport of used tyres for disposal or recycling is controlled under Western Australian legislation.
Energy recovery from used tyres in applications such as cement kilns and brick works has been employed elsewhere, but no examples currently exist in Western Australia.
Disposal of used tyres is partially restricted in Western Australia, as there is a Tyre Landfill Exclusion Zone in and around the Perth Metropolitan Area. However, licensed used tyre carriers (controlled waste carriers) have commercial arrangements with appropriate tyre disposal and recycling providers and the cost of managing the material may be built into the carrier’s contract price. Also, Western Australian legislation requires that licensed carriers must be used to transport used tyres when relating to commercial activities and quantities.
Environmental and Management Issues
Used tyres pose an environmental pollution risk mainly due the potential discharges and emissions from tyre fires. In addition to pollution problems, tyres can create the following issues:
- Tyre fires can cause a great deal of expense relating to fire extinguishing, clean-up, dispose of wastes, and property damage
- Tyre fires can cause injury or loss of life at the fire location, especially when stored tyres create clutter, which compromises fire escape and other fire management systems
- Tyre fires can spread to cause other fires, such as bushfires
- stored or dumped used tyres can provide breeding conditions for mosquitoes and habitat for feral animals and vermin.
Western Australian Legislation
The storage, handling, transportation and disposal of used tyres are specifically controlled under the following Western Australian legislation:
- Environmental Protection Regulations 1987 (Part 6, Schedule 1 and Schedule 5) - storage, handling, transportation and Disposal
- Environmental Protection (Controlled Waste) Regulations 2004 – transport
- Both the Environmental Protection Act 1986 and the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act 2007 have provisions that can be relevant to the control of used tyre waste.
Western Australian legislation is available online from the State Law Publisher.
Used Tyre Transport
Used tyres are a controlled waste, as listed in Schedule 1 of the Environmental Protection (Controlled Waste) Regulations 2004, and as such, permitting and tracking of used tyres is required when transported from commercial premises.
The commercial transport of used tyres from any premises must be conducted by a licensed controlled waste carrier. Failure to ensure this occurs is an offence by the premises manager under Western Australian legislation. Furthermore, under Western Australian legislation, records of any controlled waste movement away from any premises must be retained for at least 3 years.
A controlled waste carrier will usually deal with the management of the waste tyres and the cost of managing the material may be built into the contract price.
Refer to Department of Water and Environmental Regulation fact sheet for further information.
Used Tyre Storage
Used tyres are regulated under Part 6 of the Western Australian Environmental Protection Regulations 1987, which stipulate:
- up to 500 tyres can be stored at a tyre fitting business (or at a place connected with one) or
- up to 100 tyres can be stored in any other place.
Otherwise, the permitted quantity of used tyre storage at any premises will be the amount indicated on a licence of those prescribed premises (under category 56 or 57 in Schedule 1 of the Environmental Protection Regulations 1987).
Any premises wishing to store more used tyres than stipulated under the standard allowances under Western Australian legislation will need to obtain a licence. Enquiries about licensing can be directed to Industry Regulation staff at their local regional office of the Department Water and Environmental Regulation.
Used Tyre Disposal
Disposal of used tyres is partially restricted in Western Australia under the Environmental Protection Regulations 1987 (Schedule 5), which set the bounds for a Tyre Landfill Exclusion Zone in and around the Perth Metropolitan Area.
Tyre Landfill Exclusion Zone
- Part 1 — Metropolitan
- Armadale, Bassendean, Bayswater, Belmont, Cambridge, Canning, Claremont, Cockburn, Cottesloe, East Fremantle, Fremantle, Gosnells, Kalamunda, Kwinana, Melville, Mosman Park, Mundaring, Nedlands, Peppermint Grove, Perth, Rockingham, Serpentine-Jarrahdale, South Perth, Stirling, Subiaco, Swan, Victoria Park, Vincent, Wanneroo.
- Part 2 — Country
- Beverley, Boddington, Brookton, Chittering, Gingin, Mandurah, Murray, Northam (Town), Northam (Shire), Toodyay, Wandering, York.
Disposal normally involves burial of batches of tyres at a landfill with minimum cover and separation distances between tyre batches to minimise fire risks. This also requires either:
- Previous written approval by the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Environment Regulation when disposal occurs within the Tyre Landfill Exclusion Zone, or
- disposal at a local government district outside the Tyre Landfill Exclusion Zone
The Environmental Protection Regulations 1987 also allow for:
- Disposal by incineration, or
- Other disposal options.
In practice few situations have involved incineration as significant steps are required to protect the environment. Approval of alternative disposal methods would also require significant documentation and testing, which would be quite resource intensive.
To help reduce illegal dumping of unwanted waste materials, including tyres, an amendment to the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (Section 49A) has recently been introduced. Subsection 49A(2) creates an offence for discharging or abandoning waste into water to which the public has access, and subsection 49A(3) creates an offence for discharging or abandoning waste into any place other than water to which the public has access.
The maximum penalty for an offence against section 49A is $62,500 for an individual and $125,000 for a body corporate.
Local government officers are currently being authorised under Section 49A to increase the enforcement effort across Western Australia