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Tyres are among the largest and most problematic sources of waste. In South Africa, it is estimated that there are millions of waste tyres lying in dumps and stockpiles or scattered across the country in residential, industrial and rural areas. Approximately 11 million waste tyres are added to this number each year (courtesy of REDISA, 2014). Over the years, thousands of tonnes of scrap tyres are illegally dumped every year and not only cost millions of Rands annually but also produce severe health hazards and environmental damage.

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Whether they are dumped, burnt or landfilled; every tyre that isn’t properly recycled leaches significant toxics and hazardous compounds into our environment. Imagine the impact of 11 million tyres p.a. – that’s an incredible amount of heavy metals, toxics and poisons introduced into our environment each year! These toxic chemicals consist of lead, cadmium, dioxins, furans, hydrogen chloride, benzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), arsenic, mercury, chromium, and vanadium – substances that are detrimental to our health and the health of our future generations.

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The inadequate disposal of tyres may, in some cases, pose a potential threat to human health and potentially increase environmental risks. Tyres exposed to the elements can hold water and be a breeding space for mosquitoes that carry disease. Tyre piles can be set on fire through arson or accident. These fires are difficult to put out, and produce heavy smoke and toxic run off to waterways. Tyre piles can also harbor other vermin, such as rats and snakes.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) say that stockpiles of waste tyres sent to countries like Vietnam has caused the spread of Dengue Fever and other mosquito borne diseases. As a result of these health concerns every European nation, the United Kingdom, Canada, and most of the United States banned the export of whole waste tyres in 2007.

Air emissions from open tyre fires have been shown to be more toxic (e.g., mutagenic) than those of a combustor, regardless of the fuel. Open tyre fire emissions include “criteria” pollutants, such as particulates, carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur oxides (SO2), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

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A large urban Danish study in 2012 concluded that for every 10dB increase in the volume of road traffic noise exposure there was a 12 per cent increase in the risk of having a heart attack (PloS One, 2012). This was the case for estimated traffic noise at the time of the heart attack and over the preceding five years.

This does not mean that traffic noise alone causes heart attacks. The authors who conducted the research speculated that higher noise exposure may increase stress and sleep disturbances, and that these in turn may lead to more heart attacks.

In a separate study by the World Health Organisation, it is estimated that approximately one heart attack in 50 in rich European countries is caused by chronic exposure to loud traffic (Economist, 2012). Roadside barriers can help dampen the racket, but they are expensive. They are impractical along city streets.

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The problem of scrap tyres is not only a growing problem for South Africa, the rest of the world faces an identical problem. About 1.4 billion tyres are sold worldwide each year (JATMA report 2010). Despite an increase in the service life of tyres and the economic slowdown in Europe, USA and Japan further to the financial crisis, volumes of tyres sold have steadily increased because of the projected growing numbers of vehicles and traffic worldwide. It is estimated that 13.5 million tonnes of tyres are scrapped each year throughout the world (ETRMA – Annual report 2010).

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In 2014, Mathe Group (Pty) Ltd became an authorised recycler and processor of waste tyres with REDISA. This means that tyres disposed of through fitment centres are collected and transported to REDISA registered depots across the country. The tyres are then transported to our premises.

With our innovative methods and bespoke designed machinery, we are able to recycle 99% of the component materials in all our tyres. We are committed to creating a low environmental impact in our processing whilst ensuring that our clients are offered high quality and consistent product with enhanced value.

We are not just concerned with being good to the environment. We are also committed to ensuring our employees are afforded the opportunity to work in a safe and healthy environment with significant investment in noise reduction and air filtration.