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Rolling out new ways to recycle tyres

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Balclutha man Dave Ward has designed a machine which he believes will make tyre and plastic disposal safer and more profitable.

Each year in New Zealand, millions of used tyres go to landfill, stockpiles or are illegally disposed of.

Our vision is to eliminate waste entering landfills by making it more profitable to process waste than dump it,” Dave says.

He has invented improvements to existing pyrolysis plants. Using pyrolysis, vehicle tyres and plastics are heated to high temperatures, causing them to decompose.

Resources such as metals, wire, oil and carbon black are separated and sold – providing an economic incentive to encourage recycling.

Dave’s design is replicable and he says it would be cheaper to manufacture than existing pyrolysis plants. Processing costs are “almost minimal”.

The aim is to obtain a patent, then continually improve the machine so it could be installed at tyre centres.

He says this would reduce the number of used tyres going to landfill or being dumped or stored.

“If tyres are recycled at a local tyre centre, and the tyre centre makes five dollars per tyre, there will not be a tyre disposal problem.”

Dave claims his design also solves three health and safety problems associated with existing pyrolysis plants.

He says his machine would eliminate the risk of explosions, such as have occurred overseas; enable safer tyre and plastics collection; and avoid workers needing to load tyres into the plant, which exposes them to carbon black and possible respiratory illnesses.

Balclutha man Dave Ward’s improved process for disposing of tyres and plastics. Graphic: Dave Ward

According to the Ministry of Environment’s website, New Zealand generates about five million used tyres every year. About 70 per cent of these are destined for landfill, stockpiles, illegal disposal or are unaccounted for.

Others are used on farms, at speedways or recycled into playground matting.

Plastic recycling

Dave’s design will also recycle all types of plastic. He says if people use his machine to recycle plastics and make money from the separated materials, then less plastic will end up in the ocean.

“That’s how you solve the plastic in the ocean problem – if you can make it economical for people to pick up plastic and process it.”

Indian environmental scientist, Dr Rajendra Prasad, is interested in Dave’s design and will apply for a patent in India.

This patent will be offered free to non-commercial users. Dave says the machines can be made from 200 litre drums and scrap metal. Developing countries could construct small-scale plants.

If granted a patent, his pyrolysis machine will likely be manufactured in India and then exported.

Balclutha man Dave Ward planning an improved pyrolysis plant, to dispose of tyres and plastics. Photo: supplied

Dave’s original idea was to build a mid-scale pilot tyre and plastic plant in New Zealand, at Benhar in South Otago. However, he says this probably won’t happen because of a lack of interest from most councils he has contacted.

“If somebody in New Zealand wanted to do it and we got the patent, then we would have a monopoly on manufacturing all the plant.”

One of the country’s smaller tyre companies has expressed interest in investigating the patent.

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