At the end of October I had the pleasure of attending the 2014 Rubber Recycling Symposium in Montreal in October.

The theme of the symposium was “Driving Innovation to Drive Markets” and it brought together tyre makers, recyclers and programme managers from North America as well as guests from Europe, Scandinavia, Asia and Africa.

The conference celebrated the achievements made in virtually clearing legacy stockpiles in North America and their high rates of recycling current end-of-life tyres, as well as shared lessons learned.  Also, for the first time, tyre designers and recyclers were talking with each other about the changing makeup of tyres, how this will impact on recycling options and how to collaborate across the value chain.

A consistent theme was the need for ongoing regulatory support from governments; not a one size fits all approach, but one which took into account local circumstance but disciplined all participants in the industry to achieve good economic and environmental outcomes.

The symposium was preceded by a meeting of CATRA (Canadian Association of Tire Recycling Agencies), where all provincial programme managers meet and work collaboratively. It was a great chance to further cement relationships with successful programme operators to link their learning with the proposed Tyrewise programme in New Zealand.

Tyre fire St Amable Montreal 1990

This tyre fire in St Amable near Montreal in 1990 was the catalyst for change in North America – 3.5 million tyres caught fire, burning for 6 days at a cost of $24m.  The fire created serious health issues and required the evacuation of 100,000 people.  Every province in Canada has had a NIMBY moment (“not in my back yard”) that led to fundamental change (this also happen in the US). Let’s not wait for that to happen in New Zealand! 

Posted by Graeme Norton, 3R Group Director