Old tyres could be reborn as building products by Gold Coast auto recycler
Adrian Fuller said Australia sorely needed a new way to deal with old tyres. (ABC News: Damien Larkins)
China’s decision to stop being the world’s garbage dump has prompted a Gold Coast recycler to invest in technology that turns unwanted car tyres into bricks to be used for paving, retaining walls and house foundations.
Rubber bricks made from shredded old car tyres with Canadian technology. (Supplied: Adrian Fuller)
Adrian Fuller, who owns Adrian’s Metal Recyclers at Molendinar, said they scraped 1,200 to 1,500 cars a month but times were getting tougher now China had restricted imports of recyclable material.
“The days of buying material from the public and putting it into a container and sending it overseas are all done and dusted,” he said.
China’s National Sword policy, introduced this year, means it will no longer accept foreign recycling waste unless it was almost completely uncontaminated.
Mr Fuller’s core business is recycling metal from end-of-life cars, but he said it costs him $3.30 to dump each old tyre.
“The Government and the council have noticed that tyres are going to be a problem and we’ve come up with a solution,” he said.
One solution is to shred tyres and turn them into existing products such as playground equipment and gym matting.
Mr Fuller said he would be the first in Australia to convert finely crumbed rubber into fire retardant bricks, pavers, fence panels and sound barriers, having just secured the patent from Canadian company Eco-Flex.
“We can take people’s waste that people don’t want that’s a problem, and we’re going to make it into materials that people can use,” he said.
Waste industry welcomes plan
Waste Management Association of Australia chief executive Gayle Sloan said she welcomed the innovation.
“We recognise as the waste industry that what we’re actually dealing with is resources and these companies that are prepared to invest in technology to turn that back into other products is just terrific,” she said.
“We know if we recycle we create 9.2 jobs for every 10,000 tonnes that we recycle, compared with 2.8 jobs if we simply landfill.”
Mr Fuller said he planned to start production by the end of the year and, if successful, it could be expanded to recycle large quantities of end-of-life tyres.
Mr Fuller said his firm would be the first in Australia to turn tyres into fire-retardant bricks, pavers and fence panels. (ABC News: Damien Larkins)
John Randel, who runs A1 Rubber, Australia’s largest rubber up-cycler, said new technology had to be cost effective.
“I would advise them that the product they wish to manufacture must utilise the natural characteristics of recycled rubber — that being flexibility, non-slip and impact attenuation for it to be successful,” Mr Randel said.
“What we have found is that if your product doesn’t utilise those natural characteristics of the product there is always a cheaper alternative.”
But Mr Fuller said he was confident of finding a market for the products and his aim would be to help reduce Australia’s mounting stockpiles of used tyres.
“There are instances where people are renting big blocks of land all over Australia and just taking over a million tyres, or 500,000 tyres, and just storing them there and just walking away from the lease,” he said.
Ms Sloane said greater consumer awareness about the benefits of buying recycled rubber products would help the waste management industry.
“We’re actually seeing greater demand for recycled plastics as a result of the awareness about this issue,” she said.