Dodgy dumping a risk as tyres piling up across Hamilton
Piles of used tyres are growing across Hamilton and tyre retailers are warning that ratepayers will again be stuck with a clean-up bill.
Tyre Recycling Waikato, the region's main recycling outfit, was ordered to stop collecting used tyres by Waikato Regional Council in January.
Retailers in the "cut-throat" tyre business, concerned about fire risk and desperate to ditch used tyres, say there could be a repeat of the dodgy dumping that cost Hamilton a quarter of a million dollars in 2015.
Tyre Recycling Waikato collected weekly from around 150 customers throughout the region before it was ordered to stop.
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Owner Alvin Cobb stockpiled and baled nearly 850,000 used tyres on his Otorohanga property while he struggled to retain markets for the tyres.
He was ordered to stop collecting tyres by the Waikato Regional Council due to fire risk, unlawful use of land and contamination. Cobb is contesting the order on a number of points.
"You are better to work with one entity, like me, instead of putting the fire risk on 150 of my customers," he said.
Fly-by-nighters will take advantage of desperate retailers, take the tyres away for a dollar each and dump them in warehouses and gullies, he said.
Tyre Tracks owner Matt Lowther agreed fly-by-nighters will look to exploit the situation.
"The council will once again come along, pick them all up and take them to a dump, and the general public will pay for it again."
In 2015, Waikato Times uncovered 150,000 tyres dumped in a council-leased Frankton depot.
The tyres were subsequently dumped at a Kinloch property; the clean-up bill cost ratepayers $250,000.
Lowther said Cobb shouldn't be stockpiling the tyres, but he was the only operator in town offering a feasible solution for retailers.
Auckland-based Waste Management will collect tyres in Hamilton for recycling, but the freight cost is too high to make it worthwhile.
The only alternative is to cut up the used tyres and send them to the dump, but this is unaffordable for many businesses.
Owner of The Bling Company, Matt Algie, said his firm was storing used tyres at a warehouse in the hope that Cobb can resume collections.
"Instead of everything being in one pile like it currently is, they're going to end up with 35 medium-sized piles throughout the town," Algie said.
"When the industry's as cut-throat as it is, we can't afford to pass the cost on, because we'll lose sales."
Owner of Avalon Tyre and Suspension Shane Williams said he was "pretty well stuffed" storing a growing tyre pile in the 3-metre space between his workshop and his boundary.
The tyres began to spill out onto his forecourt, so Williams arranged for Cobb to take some to the Hampton Downs landfill.
"I'm grasping at straws. An unethical person would get them dumped somewhere."
Hamilton City Council acting general manager Eeva-Liisa Wright said there had been no reports of tyre dumping.
"As far as we see, this is a disposal issue that is up to the individual businesses to manage ... for us it only becomes our problem if it's dumped on public land."
Waikato Regional Council said staff had seen no increase in tyre dumping this year.
In a previous statement, Waikato Regional Council said incoming Ministry for the Environment regulations for used tyres "cannot come soon enough".
Cobb and Lowther said Government legislation was required to clean up the industry.
New Zealand generates 4 million used tyres a year - approximately one tyre per person - according to Environment Ministry numbers.