What will change with South Africa’s new waste tyre management plan?

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What will change with South Africa's new waste tyre management plan? ©overcrew/Shutterstock

South Africa has just unveiled its new car tyre waste management plan. The ambitious plan aims to keep 100% of this waste out of landfill in the southern African country, by promoting the circular economy.

Developed in accordance with Section 29 of the National Environmental Management Act 2008, the implementation of the South African Industry Tyre Waste Management Plan (IndWTMP) was approved by the South African Parliament on 5 April 2024. According to Barbara Creecy, South Africa’s Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, “this plan provides a comprehensive framework for the efficient and effective management of the waste tyre sector in a circular manner. The legislation is subordinate to the Waste Act and is therefore legally binding and applicable to all identified stakeholders”.

More specifically, the IndWTMP supports the promotion of reuse, recycling and recovery of used car tyres in South Africa, with a focus on collaboration between the public and private sectors. “Efficient logistics and warehousing are also essential to meet the demand for used tyres, in line with the IndWTMP’s used tyre management model, in which at least three regional implementers will be engaged by the Waste Management Office to manage the logistics and depot management elements of the value chain through contracted service providers,” says the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment.

Achieving 100% landfill of used tyres

And there is no shortage of raw materials, because while an average of 13 million new tyres are sold each year in South Africa through 1,400 to 2,000 registered dealers, according to the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), around 12 million tyres, or 312,780 tonnes, enter the country’s waste stream each year.

In addition to adopting sustainable practices in the management of vehicle tyre waste in the Rainbow Nation, the IndWTMP is creating entrepreneurial opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in line with the national policy of revitalising the township economy, with a focus on young people, women and people living with disabilities. These opportunities also include the expansion of micro-collection and micro-deposit networks in all provinces of South Africa.

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“SMEs will be supported by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment and the Department of Small Business Development to take advantage of the opportunities arising from the expansion and more efficient supply of the used tyre value chain. The Memorandum of Understanding between the two departments on SME support will be extended to specifically include used tyres,” says Barbara Creecy, South Africa’s Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.

In the long term, South Africa should be able to divert 100% of new used tyres from storage, while processing ever larger portions of historical stocks dating from after the levy.

Inès Magoum

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