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TSA News > Illegal tyre dumping on the rise and Victoria is ‘copping it’

Illegal tyre dumping on the rise and Victoria is ‘copping it’

5 February 2024

The foot of the EJ Whitten Bridge has become a colossal junkyard for illegally abandoned tyres, one of a statewide spate of such dump sites, as authorities warn tyre dumping has become rife in Victoria.

The increase is being blamed on businesses seeking to avoid paying recycling fees of about $3 per waste tyre, and on rogue operators cheating Australia’s voluntary tyre recycling scheme.

The Department of Transport and Planning has so far cleared about 2500 tyres from beneath the 10-lane bridge over the Maribyrnong River, though many remain on the steep slope beneath it and some have fallen into the river. The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is investigating.

The EPA said illegal tyre dumping was on the rise in Victoria, with about 100,000 tonnes of waste tyres generated each year.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing more incidents of tyres being dumped around the state as some people try to shift the cost of disposal onto taxpayers,” a spokesman said.

According to figures provided to The Age by Tyre Stewardship Australia, which runs the nation’s voluntary tyre recycling scheme, about 1.8 million tyres were either illegally dumped, stockpiled, hidden in warehouses or put into landfill in Victoria in 2022-23.

“Alarmingly, this number has more than doubled in the last three years,” the agency said.

Chief executive Lina Goodman said “opportunistic operators” were making easy money out of collecting used tyres from retailers, ostensibly to be recycled, but dumping or stockpiling them.

“Queensland had a terrible spate of stockpiles for some time as rogue operators entered that market, it seems that Victoria is copping it at the moment,” Goodman said.

“It’s an easy way to make a significant amount of money by collecting tyres from retail shops and mechanics and … just picking up tyres and dumping them.”

Tyre dumping mostly happens in remote places where detection is less likely, including in state parks, Victoria’s Conservation Regulator said.

Beyond Melbourne, Parks Victoria and the Conservation Regulator uncovered at least 60 separate illegal tyre dumps on public land last year, including more than 300 car tyres in the Kenny State Forest near Bruthen in October, and about 100 in the Kimbolton State Forest in the Loddon Mallee region.

Dumped tyres are not just unsightly. They contain harmful chemicals that leach into the groundwater as they break down, potentially poisoning plants and animals, the Conservation Regulator said.

They are also a serious fire hazard, as tyre fires burn hotter and more easily, and are harder to extinguish, than regular fires.

“Illegally dumped rubber tyres can seriously risk the health of communities, environments, and native wildlife, and Victorian individuals and businesses need to clean up their act,” David McIlroy, Director of Regulatory Operations at the Conservation Regulator, said.

“Our state forests are not a rubbish tip, and anyone caught treating them like one will be penalised.”

Councils in outer Melbourne are also reporting a recent rise in tyre dumping.

The City of Brimbank said it had collected about 73 tonnes of tyres dumped in public space last year, which equates to 8000 tyres.

The City of Wyndham in Melbourne’s outer south-west, said it was collecting about 500 dumped tyres a month, mostly in rural and isolated areas where the crime was easier to get away with.

“Dumping involves mostly car tyres but includes truck tyres as well,” a council spokesperson said.

“It appears commercial trucks pull over to the side of the road, open their tarps, dump the tyres and drive away in a matter of minutes.”

Councils bear the cost of collecting dumped tyres.

The City of Wyndham and the EPA jointly prosecuted a Hoppers Crossing business in December, fining the owner more than $19,000, after the business was caught on camera ditching 80 tyres by the side of a road.

Wyndham councillor Susan McIntyre said at the time that illegal tyre dumping was on the rise in part due to recent bans on the exportation of waste tyres, which have put upward pressure on recycling costs.

“We understand that restrictions introduced by the Australian government regarding the export of used tyre waste has increased recycling costs and in some instances set minimum tyre collection amounts per business, but dumping in Wyndham is not the answer to these challenges, and we will be working closely with the EPA to deter this behaviour,” McIntyre said.

Australia banned the export of whole waste tyres or tyres in pieces larger than 150 millimetres in December 2021.

Read the full article here.

Author: Adam Carey

Published: February 4, 2024 — 5.00am – The Sunday Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane Times

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