TRIASA’s (The Tyre Recycling Industry Association of South Africa) launch is a significant event for the local economy and environment, according to Dr Mehran Zarrebini, CEO of Mathe Group, a truck tyre recycling operation based in Hammarsdale and a founder member of the new industry body. Dr Zarrebini is a proponent of tyre recycling and has promoted it at forums worldwide. However, South Africa has had difficulty repurposing used tyres, posing health and environmental risks. The Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (REDISA) started in 2013 to develop an eco-friendly waste tyre management solution. However, REDISA had to suspend the plan in 2017 due to allegations of corruption, financial irregularities, and mismanagement. Since then, minimal recycling has taken place.
Dr Zarrebini believes that as a registered stakeholder in the forthcoming Section 29 Integrated Waste Tyre Plan, TRIASA can significantly contribute to reducing the growing stockpile of waste tyres and creating employment and entrepreneurial and manufacturing opportunities. TRIASA’s primary objectives are to unite the different elements of tyre recycling in South Africa, provide a forum for industry discussion, knowledge exchange, and collaboration, nurture the development of the tyre recycling industry, reduce South Africa’s dependency on imported rubber, and promote a circular economy.
TRIASA members include companies/entities that employ mechanical or ambient grinding of tyres or pyrolysis, pre-processing, shredding, and baling to process waste tyres. In addition, members must prove they process waste tyre material, register with the Waste Bureau, and have supply agreements.
Dr Zarrebini believes that the tyre waste management plan of South Africa needs to be implemented and managed in partnership with the government. He believes that TRIASA and the Department of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries share common goals to protect the environment and ensure compliance in South Africa’s waste tyre industry.
The disposal of waste tyres is a global issue, and in 2021, global tyre production reached an estimated 1,900,000,000 units. In addition, the global tyre waste pile includes rejects. Unfortunately, waste tyre statistics in South Africa are hard to obtain, making it difficult to devise a Waste Tyre Plan. While some role players provide accurate data, others have almost no record-keeping systems, emphasising the need for a national waste tyre audit in South Africa.
Analysts estimate that South Africa sells an average of 13 million tyres together weighing 300 000 tonnes yearly through a network of 1 400 to 2 000 dealerships. Passenger vehicle tyres account for 89%, while commercial vehicle (truck) tyres account for 11%. In South Africa, they are applying an 18-20% weight reduction between new and waste tyres data in an estimated 240 000 – 250 000 tonnes of end-of-life tyres per year. Most are returned to dealerships and fitment centres when new tyres are fitted. The estimated OTR waste tyre stream of 20 000 tonnes per annum was added to derive a total estimated annual flow of waste tyres in South Africa ranging between 250 000 and 300 000 tonnes. In 2018/19, only an estimated 54 460 tonnes of waste tyres were re-processed.