South Africa has millions of waste tyres lying in dumps and stockpiles, or scattered across the country in residential, industrial and rural areas. Almost 11 million waste tyres are added to this number every year, yet no one has been held accountable for the rapidly growing number.
While some of these waste tyres make their way to recycling facilities via formal and informal networks of collectors, many of them are burned for their scrap metal content, releasing toxic fumes and liquids in the process. They are also burned by in the townships and rural areas for heat generation, particularly during winter. This practice introduces many noxious gases such as dioxins and carbon monoxide into the environment.
Tyres are a problematic waste product in general, because with current know-how they cannot, in general, be economically recycled.
However, as a nation we are paying the cost of ignoring the issue. Waste is not waste: recycling creates an opportunity for resource sustainability. Through the REDISA Waste Tyre Management Plan, tyres will now be recycled into useful products instead of polluting the environment.