Turbulent times for tyres

Turbulent times for tyres

There has been a lot of hype in the media regarding the Recycling and Development Initiative of South Africa (Redisa) waste tyre management plan. Meanwhile, there have also been some exciting new innovations in the tyre sector. CLAIRE RENCKEN takes a closer look at both issues.

 

First things first. Here’s a summary of the saga involving Redisa’s waste tyre management plan – in layman’s terms and without being bogged down by too much legal jargon.

Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, approved Redisa’s tyre recycling plan. However, the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) had serious concerns, relating not only to the manner in which the Minister took the decision to approve the plan, but the validity of the plan itself. So it took legal action in September. The RMI issued an application in the North Gauteng High Court, which was heard just days before the intended implementation of the Redisa plan.

The Court found in favour of the RMI since grounds for urgency clearly existed. The case for interim relief will now be heard on November 8 and 9. However, it was ruled that, in the interim, tyre producers will be expected to subscribe to the plan for the period between the two court hearings. The main application for review of the Minister’s decision will, in all probability, only be heard later next year.

Vishal Premlall, the RMI’s national director for its TDAFA (Tyre Dealers and Fitment Centre Association) members, explains: “The RMI decided to take up this fight on behalf of the industry, mainly because of the speculation that the Redisa plan is fraught with risk and may potentially cost the industry billions of rands. The RMI further tested the effectiveness of the Redisa plan by appointing a university to provide a study. This study provided substantial information for the application. Ultimately, we want to see waste tyre management for SA being driven by an expert industry council, which will come up with a sustainable and cost effective model at minimal risk to both the industry and the consumer.”

So, depending on what transpires during the November court hearing, and at least for the period until then, in terms of the regulations: “ … any tyre producer that has no IIWTMP [Integrated Industry Waste Tyre Management Plan] approved by the Minister of the Department of Environmental Affairs, or that does not belong to an existing IIWTMP, will, as from September 21 not be entitled to manufacture or import new, part-worn, or retreadable casings, or vehicles fitted with any of the aforementioned”.

According to Redisa, the plan is a single, universal and industry-independent plan that addresses all waste tyres from all sources and of whatever age. It meets all government criteria for dealing with South Africa’s chronic waste tyre problem.

Redisa CEO Hermann Erdmann is understandably pleased with the outcome of the court proceedings: “The delays and obstructions put in the way of implementing a solution to our waste tyre problem also affect all the people who are looking to Redisa for their opportunity to earn a decent living. This court action has been yet another distraction from the real purpose of the plan, which is to build a sustainable tyre recycling industry and create jobs.” More information on the recycling programme can be obtained on the Redisa website.

Tyre suppliers seem to have responded positively, with major players such as Bandag already supporting the implementation of the new legislation. Says Laurent Colrat, Bandag’s marketing director: “Bandag Southern Africa is fully in support of the government’s IIWTMP that will be managed by Redisa. We are committed to ensuring complete transparency in the implementation of this new legislative policy.”

Black business associations have also pledged their support for Redisa. As a group, they feel that the approval of this initiative is a major milestone in the history of our country’s democracy and will forever change the tyre industry. They feel the industry is not sufficiently transformed and that Redisa offers an opportunity to bridge this gap and create a responsible industry South Africans can all be proud of.

Nafcoc (the National African Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and Fabcos (the Foundation for African Business and Consumer Services), together with various other SA black business organisations, have committed themselves to working with Redisa in every way possible to ensure that businesses from townships and rural areas in particular (where poverty is most endemic and employment is desperately needed) participate meaningfully in the collection and recycling of tyres throughout South Africa.

It is their opinion that, contrary to the media statements and announcements of the past few weeks, the approval of Redisa should not necessarily lead to an increase in the price of tyres and place an unwanted burden on consumers. This will of course happen if industry players do not come to the party and make their contribution. At the very least, industry players should meet consumers halfway. The group of organisations has applauded those who have already undertaken to pay for the service out of their profits instead of just increasing tyre prices in order to comply with the law. It has also urged all South Africans and the business community in general to support the initiative and to partner with Redisa in trying to make our country a healthier place while contributing to job creation on an unprecedented scale.

It will be interesting to see what actually happens now that tyre suppliers have been forced to start implementing the new legislation. Watch this space.

‘Tyre’d’ of the same old, same old?
Well, the industry has some exciting new innovations!

GT Runflat recently launched a new-generation puncture-proof operational tyre (PPOT) in the US. The revolutionary GT Runflat RFI (run flat insert) has evolved from the company’s range of tried-and-tested polyurethane PPOT conflict wheels. These have been successfully used in war zones by the US military to enable the free movement of mounted frames that are fitted to clearance vehicles. These vehicles sweep roads ahead of land convoys in order to detonate enemy landmines and other explosive devices.

Version 2 of GT Runflat’s PPOT landmine wheel.The US headquarters of GT Runflat is based in Georgia, and managing director Sandro Pagliarulo points out that the company has spent 20 years perfecting the technology, which has recently undergone extensive testing in the harsh and unforgiving climates of the rugged South African savanna. “The GT Runflat RFI is essentially a tyre within a tyre,” he says. “It comprises a pliable, non-pneumatic, solid doughnut of honeycombed section – the stiffness of which can be varied according to the deflection characteristics required.”

Research and development staff at GT Runflat ran tests on 42 different compounds to identify which would most economically deliver the wheel longevity required – and have since developed a unique molding process that allows precise production from the various polyurethanes according to the customer’s wheel load and surface pressure specifications.

Goodyear has also been doing exciting things, particularly relating to coach tyres. The company unveiled a new coach tyre programme, which, along with the latest products and other technical developments from the tyre manufacturer, was shown at the IAA in September. The Goodyear Marathon Coach and Goodyear Ultra Grip Coach are both brand new tyres for modern coaches. The Marathon Coach is an all-position tyre, while the Ultra Grip is a winter drive tyre. Although Goodyear has been a major tyre supplier to the coach industry for many years, these are the first dedicated coach tyres offered by the company. Information revealed at the IAA underlined the outstanding wear characteristics and comfort features reported by coach fleet operators during extended customer testing. Goodyear is renowned for the development of innovative technologies and products.

Goodyear also unveiled a special truck built from LEGO bricks at the IAA, which played a key role in a charity project to support the European truck driver initiative, DocStop, which offers medical assistance to truck drivers on the road. The aim is to make sure that every truck driver in Europe has easy access to a doctor should they need one – just like at home.

It’s nice to see big contenders in the coach and truck tyre sector doing their bit for humanity, while promoting their latest technologies.

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