By Denna Bowman
Anger is mounting over more than 11 million used tyres which were exported from Australia to China and Vietnam last year.
More than a million used tyres from Brisbane are being burnt in China’s coal mines while local tyre recyclers struggle to source enough rubber to keep their businesses afloat.
Last year, more than 11 million used tyres were exported from Australia to China and Vietnam, with 1.5 million sent from Brisbane wharves.
Ipswich-based recycler Chip Tyre chief executive Dave Mohr said a loophole in government regulations, which listed tyres as “regulated” rather than a “hazardous” waste, had allowed their mass export.
Mr Mohr said the practice was “unethical, if not illegal” under the Basel Convention, which prevents the exchange of hazardous waste between countries.
“One of the problems at the moment is that tyres are being baled and sent to China for dubious reasons,” he said. “They are not being recycled, they are being used to fuel kilns or power stations or whatever.”
Tyres are often collected from companies by the cheapest bidding firms, rather than rubber recycling businesses.
Mr Mohr said his business could not compete with those that collected tyres and shipped them to China.
“It is two to three times more expensive for me to do what I am doing compared to what they are doing,” he said.
“Everybody believes their tyres are being dealt with in a responsible manner, but they aren’t.”