Fletcher Building has come up with a concrete plan to save about half of the six million old car tyres New Zealand sends to landfills or dumps each year.
Golden Bay Cement, the company’s plant near Whangārei, will take the tyres and use them as fuel to make cement. Today, the newly-upgraded plant was opened.
The company previously used coal to fuel its kiln. But, after four years of planning, it can now also use the cleaner-burning tyre waste.
The project to convert the plant was funded by the previous National-led Government. The Ministry for the Environment funded it $25 million, and it also got a $16 million grant through the ministry’s Waste Minimisation Fund.
Fletcher Building CEO Ross Taylor said the scheme is a win-win.
“Not only are we using waste tyres in the cement-making process and getting rid of what's going to landfill, we're also reducing our carbon load into the environment as well by 13,000 tonnes a year,” he said.
“When you burn tyres at such a high temperature there's no smoke, there's no smells because it consumes everything and they release less CO2, which is where the saving comes from.”
The tyres will be burnt at around 1400 degrees Celsius. Any ash, rubber and metal left will then be combined into cement.
Since late February, 250,000 tyres had been used in this way at the plant.
Environment Minister David Parker said it was one of the “biggest” waste minimisation projects he’d probably ever be associated with.
“It's a great outcome,” he said.