Spanner in works for recycling plan

Estelle Ellis and Lee-Anne Butler

A COSTLY recycling plan that South African tyre companies were compelled to sign up for last month is so deeply flawed it would lead to the build-up of a backlog of 40 million tyres that would not be recycled over six years, according to papers filed before the Johannesburg High Court.

Last month, tyre companies in South Africa were ordered to adhere to the government’s costly recycling plan, which they vehemently oppose. Next month the Johannesburg High Court will, however, decide on an application by the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) to have this plan, to be administered by the Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (Redisa), scrapped.

Redisa’s plan is an extensive multi-faceted strategy to deal with the recycling, re- use and transport of used tyres as well as disposal of waste products from these processes. It also makes provision for a massive capital outlay to establish recycling centres. The RMI is bringing an application next month to have the plan, approved by the Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa, scrapped.

In papers before court, the RMI has launched a scathing attack on the Redisa plan, saying that consumers and the environment will bear the brunt of the fatally flawed plan. The national director of the RMI, Vishal Premlall, said it had such severe shortcomings it should be set aside.

He accused the minister of abdicating all her power to regulate the process to Redisa. This meant it would raise levies and control the entire process without input by the government and had “draconian powers” in the recycling industry.

He said the plan relied on “nonsensical surveys”, vague campaigns and empty promises, including an unusually large amount of money to tyre transporters within the first year of operation.

But it was silent on how the informal sector would be mobilised to recycle “significant tonnage of waste tyres”. He also said the plan did not make provision for the significant capital outlay it would need.

Last month the North Gauteng High Court ruled that tyre manufacturers, dealers and importers who were members of the SA Tyre Recycling Process Company (SATRP) had to join the Redisa plan at least until the application to have it scrapped had been heard. SATRP board chairman Riaan van Niekerk said while the country’s tyre industry was still opposed to it, members had joined, in accordance with the law, while waiting to see what unfolded in the courts.

“[Tomorrow] there will be a decision on our application for leave to appeal. If this is granted it will only be heard next year.” financial manager of Pirelli Tyres South Africa, said the Redisa plan had massive financial implications for the industry because while levies were only payable to Redisa as from January 31, they had been imposed from October 1.

“This means manufacturers and importers need to pay a levy for every tyre produced and imported from October 1. So if we imported 30000 for October, at 10kg per tyre, that would make it R2.30 multiplied by 300000kg, which comes out to R700000. This is payable to Redisa from the end of January.”

He said while the aim was to create jobs through recycling waste tyres, the levies imposed could ultimately lead to job losses or a cut in production. “If your turnover for the year is R10-million, you might be paying R8.4-million of that over in levies.”

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