Autocycle International, a tyre recycling business that launched in Altona North at the end of November, wants to bring full transparency to the industry.
On 1 December 2021, an export ban on whole and baled waste tyres came into effect in Australia, following glass and plastics export bans commencing in July. The bans come under the larger circular economy scheme developed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), after consultation with industry and other key stakeholders. The waste response plan under the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020 was well received, however it posed challenges for local businesses and communities.
When seasoned environmental advisor Max Lam met Doris Feng, whose family has specialised in tyre manufacturing in China for more than 20 years, they wanted to do something vastly different. The team had a vision of creating a safe and sustainable future for tyre recycling in Australia.
Lam said: “We wanted to ensure we are a people-first business, from the welfare of our employees to the safety of truck drivers. And we are not afraid of showing people our process, and making it 100 per cent transparent and compliant.”
The idea of starting Autocycle International spawned in early 2021 and came to fruition after consulting with George Hatzimihalis, an industry veteran and now strategic advisor to the business.
When asked why he joined the business, Hatzimihalis said it was the passion and vision Lam and Feng shared that attracted him.
“We want to invest in R&D with universities to improve product stewardship that can help formulate new commodities from the end-of-life tyres. They can be recycled into construction products for building materials and roads, as well as alternative fuel. We are essentially creating a new currency for the circular economy.”
At the soft launch of Autocycle International, Lam said the company’s initial $7 million investment has resulted in three weather-protected bays for storage of waste tyres and a 9-metre high rack for storage of rubber products, both with fire suppression systems.
In addition, the facility contains a production line ready with European-imported machinery designed to effectively recycle passenger and truck tyres into a range of rubber products suitable for both Australian and international markets.
Consistent with Autocycle International’s people-first policy, the facility adopts best practices and is designed to minimise fire, OH&S and environmental risks for employees, local communities and the environment, by eliminating the need for external storage for waste tyres.
Lam said Autocycle International will officially start operating in February 2022, with plans to continue innovating in the recycling space and expand nationally within the next five years.