Government announces tyre recycling plan

The Government's announced a plan it hopes will have a win-win outcome for the environment.

It'll involve recycling more than half of New Zealand's dumped tyres, and at the same time creating a saleable product: concrete.

There are dozens of huge car tyre dumps around New Zealand.

Some, like one in Waikato, are believed to contain at least a million tyres.

"When people go replace their tyres at their local tyre shop, they get charged five or seven bucks to recycle the tyre, but too often the tyre never gets recycled," says Environment Minister Nick Smith.

That's a problem, because as well as attracting rats, they leach contaminants into our land and water.

So, the Government's come up with a plan to recycle three out of the five million tyres dumped each year.

First, it's outlawing large tyre dumps.

And it's putting money into tyre shredders. Waste Management NZ will get $6.4 million toward two machines - one in Auckland and one in Christchurch.

Most of the mulched tyres will be shipped north to the country's biggest concrete maker, Golden Bay Cement.

It'll get $13.6 million for equipment to recycle them - it gets to keep the steel.

"You need to have iron as input to the cement. And at the moment we get that from beach sands on the West Coast of NZ. But the steel inside the tyres actually helps provides the iron. So we'll need about half as much beach sands," Mr Smith says.

And the rubber will be burned as fuel - it's a more environmental option than coal.

"We think we can get at least 15 percent reduction or at least 15,000 tonnes reduction in coal - that's coal that gets shipped across from Australia typically," Mr Smith says.

Similar systems already operate all over the world.

If it works as smoothly as the Government suggests, the end product will be a saleable concrete product and we'll be getting rid of this problem at the same time.