Tyre industry appealing for Government support of tyre recycling

Tyre dumping has become such a major problem in New Zealand that importers are now calling on the Government. 

More than 5 million tyres are thrown away each year and the industry wants Government help in getting a new recycling scheme going.

With 125,000 old, worn-out tyres collected in a year, one farm in north Canterbury holds the tyre sins of the South Island.

Farm manager Angelique Hyde leased the land to a tyre collector, who is slowly sending them overseas for recycling.

"If the public knew what is actually happening with their tyres, they'd be horrified," Ms Hyde says.

Marty Hoffart of the Zero Waste Network says there are no rules about where tyres can be dumped.

"It's a totally unregulated industry, which means anyone can go and get a truck and go and pick up tyres from a tyre shop and take them anywhere and dump them."

The problem with tyres is the rubber - it doesn't break down - which means if you came back to a pile in 100 years, it would look the same, unchanged by time. But now tyre companies are working together to try stop this from happening. 

Industry group Tyrewise, backed by New Zealand's biggest tyre importer, Bridgestone, is calling on the Ministry for the Environment to declare tyres a "priority product".

"We're taking away the motivation for tyres to go to landfill, the motivation for them to be dumped in streams or the end of streets," Bridgestone director of New Zealand business John Staples says. 

This would give the Government the ability to put a recycling fee on every tyre it imports - replacing the fee consumers pay at tyre shops and creating a multimillion-dollar fund to pay for collection and recycling.

"Look, I think it's a marvellous idea, if they can actually bring it to fruition," Ms Hyde says. 

The decision will now be made by the Government, but every day it waits thousands of tyres will continue to pile up.