Auckland recycling plant to transform tyres into fuel

Sixty thousand tonnes of used tyre waste is created each year in New Zealand.

A new recycling plant that will process half of that waste each year - turning it into a fuel source - has opened in Auckland.

Three million car tyres will be processed at the recycling plant each year, shredded in a purpose-built machine and broken into 15 millimetre chips that can be used as a fuel source.  

"A really virtuous application for that end of life tyre is to use it as a fuel in cement production; it could also be used as an energy source for other things," Waste Management managing director Tom Nickels told Newshub. 

The tyre derived fuel, or TDF, will be shipped to a partnering company in India. Steps are in place for a New Zealand cement plant to use TDF within the next two years.  

But not all tyres can be recycled. Waste Management has had to send four truckloads of tyres to landfill. They were either too contaminated or they were large off-road tyres that can't be processed. 

Waste management says even with the facility now up and running, around 2 percent of the tyres will still need to be dumped. 

"The tyres that are typically used for off road vehicles, for tractors, some specialist vehicles have solid rubber tyres; some are not suitable so the only way we can deal with that today is to put that to landfill," said Mr Nickels. 

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is welcoming the facility, but says more needs to be done. 

"At the moment you have to pay to dispose of your tyres, but if we built that cost in to the sale of the tyres at the beginning - that disincentives people either dumping in landfill, or even worse dumping on the sides of the roads," he said. 

Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage says the Ministry for the Environment is already looking into that plan.  

"We need to make sure that the cost of dealing with tyres at the end of their life are on the tyres when we start using them."

A second Waste management tyre recycling plant is expected to open in the South Island in late 2019.