The Australian government’s decision to ban exports of end-of-life whole tires from the end of 2021 will leave Australia with a ‘massive’ gap in its tire recycling capacity, according to Trevor Bayley, COO of tire recycler Green Distillation Technologies (GDT).
“The government announcement does not make an estimate of the total number of whole tires that are currently exported as most that leave our shores are in the form of crumbed or chopped tires and these are not included in the ban at this stage,” Bayley said.
“We can step in to fill the gap as we have world-first, Australian-developed technology that can recycle old tires into valuable oil, carbon and steel. We can bring our processing plant at Warren in Western New South Wales up to full production in 12 months and our other planned facility in Toowoomba, Southern Queensland, for which we have received all the required government approvals, to full operation in 18 months.”
GDT puts the projected cost of these two facilities at A$20m (US$13.5m). The company has also investigated building plants in Wagga, Geelong, Elizabeth, Meekatharra and Gladstone. The five-year plan is for seven plants around Australia, which will have the capacity to handle 30% of the reported 25 million end-of-life tires that Australia generates each year.
“The only thing holding us back at this stage is the need for investment funds and although we have been supported by our loyal shareholders and Federal Government grants up to this stage, each plant will cost A$12m (US$8.1m) to reach full operational status,” Bayley added.
Agreements are already in place with Southern Oil, which will take all the light crude oil produced by GDT in Australia to its Gladstone refinery, and with CarbonScape in New Zealand, to research the use of GDT’s carbon to make graphite. One of “many international approaches” recently resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding for five processing plants in South Africa, in a deal valued at more than A$50m (US$34m).
“What we have done is a world breakthrough and we’d like our first plants to be in our own country, but it is our fervent belief that our technology will eventually become the preferred means of recycling old tires throughout the world,” said Bayley.