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Global plans of Australian tyre recycler

Australian tyre recycler Green Distillation Technologies (GDT), which ambitiously plans to sell its recycling solutions for end-of-life tyres around the globe, has signed a deal for its first plant in the United States.

The agreement provides funding of up to US$ 100 million (EUR 90 million) for the roll-out of additional plants in the US, subject to the successful operation of the first one, to process used tyres into oil, carbon and steel.

The US, like most countries around the world, has a significant tyre disposal problem and generates in excess of 250 million end-of-life tyres a year. In contrast, Australia is around 10% of that and the number of old tyres generated in India and China is increasing fast. The world total is now over 1.5 billion tyres a year.

From paints to toothpaste

‘In the light of this environmental disposal problem our approach provides a recycling solution as we turn a problem into valuable materials,’ says GDT’s Trevor Bayley. ‘For example, our oil has been described as light crude, which is low in sulphur and easy to refine into petrol, diesel, jet fuel and other petroleum based products.’

The carbon GDT produces is sold as carbon black, which is used in products ranging from tyres, plastics and paints to toothpaste and cosmetics.

Successful at home

In Australia, GDT expects a processing plant at Warren in New South Wales to be up to full production this year while a second planned facility in Toowoomba, Queensland, is expected to be in operation within 18 months. The projected cost of these two facilities is EUR 18 million.

GDT has explored several other potential sites around Australia. The company’s five-year plan calls for seven facilities around Australia to handle 30% of the total of 25 million tyres Australia generates each year.

Oversize tyres too 

Every plant, with six modules and operating 24/7, will handle a mix of 19 000 tonnes of tyres per year. Each typical 10 kg car tyre yields four litres of oil, 4 kg of carbon and 2 kg of steel. A 70 kg truck tyre provides 27 litres of oil, 28 kg of carbon, 15 kg of steel while a four-tonne oversize mining dump truck tyre delivers 1.6 tonnes of carbon, 0.8 tonnes of steel and 1 500 litres of oil.

Each plant is expected to need a permanent workforce of 15 with more people required during the construction phase. The local economy will be boosted as others will be needed to collect the tyres and deliver them to the plant.

According to Bayley, GDT’s technology and best practices in Australia have attracted strong interest and the company has recently closed a deal to set up five recycling plants in South Africa. ‘We have welcomed visitors to our Warren plant from Japan, Thailand, Canada, the US, Middle East, Pakistan and India to name a few.’ 

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