1 million tyres removed from Stawell stockpile

1 million tyres removed from Stawell stockpile

One of Australia’s largest and most dangerous tyre stockpiles has been transformed, in an operation led by the EPA Victoria with the support of Tyrecycle.

One of Australia’s most experienced tyre recyclers, Tyrecycle has spent the past two months removing 9500 tonnes of tyres which had been stockpiled over many years on the outskirts of the Victorian township of Stawell. The EPA used specific clauses in legislation to take full control of the site after a deadline for the owners to act on fire hazard notifications expired.

“Thankfully that enabled us to tackle, with the support of the state government, the local council and other state agencies, and under the control and guidance of the EPA, the removal of an estimated 1 million tyres and shred,” said Tyrecycle CEO Jim Fairweather.

In total, 381 truckloads of tyre waste were removed from the site, peaking at 529 tonnes of end-of-life tyres removed on a single day. The first loads left the site on 10 August, with the transformation of the site taking just over two months in total, including 49 days on-site.

“That follows more than a decade of significant and unacceptable fire, environmental and human health risk,” Fairweather said.

More than two-thirds of the tyres were transported to Tyrecycle’s EPA-licensed processing facility in Melbourne, where they have been cleaned, sorted, shredded and are now being recycled. Just over 30% of the stockpile was unable to be processed due to contamination from mud and dirt and as a result had to go to landfill.

“Some of the recycled material will be used in a range of road, sporting or building products, with the majority being converted to tyre-derived fuel (TDF),” said Fairweather.

“The extremely high calorific value of TDF, and its significantly lower volumes of carbon dioxide (CO2) when compared with coal, makes it an attractive alternative fuel on an international scale.”

According to Fairweather, the Stawell community has been “forthcoming in their thanks for making them feel so much safer heading into the warmer months and on the eve of the fire season”. He said more urgent action is needed on stockpiles across the country, and hopes the success of the project will spur action on other dangerous legacy stockpiles.

“[The Tasmanian town of] Longford houses one of the biggest stockpiles in the country and as we head into the warmer months, the risk these mountains of waste create grow exponentially,” Fairweather said.

“Regulations are critical, but actions speak loudest in terms of directly addressing and discouraging rogue operators who are prepared to put the community at risk.”

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