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Cement plant to use half of NZ’s waste tyres

New Zealand’s environment minister has described a major upgrade to the country’s only cement manufacturing plant as a ‘win-win-win’ for the environment.

Up to three million used tyres will now used each year in New Zealand’s cement manufacturing instead of going to landfill.

Fletcher Building has completed the NZ$25m tyre project at its Golden Bay Cement plant in Portland, Whangarei, and the upgrade was officially opened by environment minister David Parker. “This innovative project is a win-win-win for the environment,” he said. “It reduces a significant waste problem, reuses a valuable resource, and reduces carbon emissions by about 13,000 tonnes a year.”

The Ministry for the Environment part funded the project with a grant of NZ$16m awarded through its Waste Minimisation Fund.

Fletcher Building CEO Ross Taylor described it as a landmark sustainability project for manufacturing in New Zealand. “Using end-of-life tyres in cement manufacturing helps to solve a significant waste problem in New Zealand as well as improve the sustainability of a key building material. Up to 50 percent of the 6.3 million waste tyres created in New Zealand each year will now be used in cement manufacturing at the Golden Bay Cement plant instead of going into landfill.

“There are no other large industries in New Zealand that can readily or cleanly consume the volume of waste tyres our Portland cement plant can.”

Parker said: “By using old tyres as fuel, Golden Bay Cement will reduce coal use by 15 per cent and iron sands use reduced by 5,000 tonnes a year, without harmful effects from air discharges. “It will divert from landfill or stockpiles about 42 per cent of the estimated three million waste tyres in Auckland each year – making a big dent in New Zealand’s largest catchment of old tyres.

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"New Zealand needs to address its longstanding problem with waste, so we can become the low waste, low emissions economy we need to be. I congratulate Fletchers for making an investment that will bring long-term benefits and help us manage our waste responsibly."

Taylor added: “Waste tyres have been used successfully in many cement plants throughout the world. We are proud to bring this world-leading technology to New Zealand as well as our investment in local manufacturing jobs and capability.

“The project was a significant investment over several years that involved upgrades to the plant, with specialist equipment from Denmark installed to feed the tyres into the cement manufacturing process. With the upgrades now completed, we have been successfully using tyres since 22 February. The tyres are combusted at around 1,400°C and the rubber, metal and any ash are combined into the cement.”

Golden Bay Cement supplies more than half the New Zealand market as the only local cement manufacturer. “Our cement already has around 20 percent lower emissions than imported cement and using tyres is part of the decarbonisation plan to reduce its footprint even further,” said Taylor. “It will also reduce our need for natural raw materials like iron sand.

“Local manufacturing must compete fiercely with imports, and this investment allows us to continue doing just that. At the same time, we’re providing local jobs as well as supply chain security for the domestic building, infrastructure, and construction industries.”

Fletcher Building has a science-based target to reduce its emissions by 30% by 2030. Taylor said: “Climate change is an urgent, global priority. The building and materials sector has an important role to play by changing the way that it designs, builds, sources, and manufactures the building materials used in the construction process. We are serious about transforming our business around sustainability to do our part in creating a sustainable future and reducing our carbon emissions.”