Firm plans to turn tyres into fuel

Horowhenua Chronicle - - NEWS - By PAUL WIL­LIAMS

A Fox­ton busi­ness turn­ing rub­bish into fuel is try­ing to change New Zealand at­ti­tudes to­wards waste dis­posal.

New­fu­els has im­ported a new ma­chine for its Fox­ton plant that, in a nut­shell, could con­vert tyres and plas­tic bags into low­grade fuel.

Man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Leigh Ram­sey said while it re­mained cheaper to throw rub­bish like used tyres into a hole in the ground in New Zealand it was hard for a busi­ness model to re­main con­sis­tently vi­able.

“If we keep putting it in the ground . . . there’s an end game there,” he said.

Mr Ram­sey said the process was not new and was used over­seas in mas­sive vol­umes. It had been tried be­fore in New Zealand, but as yet no-one was able to de­velop it into a suc­cess­ful busi­ness model.

“We’re set­ting this up as a de­mon­stra­tion site and busi­ness model that says ‘it can be done’,” he said.

The process in­volved break­ing down a solid hy­dro­car­bon, like a car tyre, into shorter car­bon chains, where it formed a liq­uid.

He be­lieved the se­cret was to tai­lor the tech­nol­ogy to suit New Zealand needs, and also New Zealand as a coun­try needed to change its at­ti­tude to­wards waste dis­posal.

Where it might cost around $150 per tonne to dis­pose of used tyres at present, the re­al­ity was that to dis­pose of the same amount through the con­ver­sion process, the cost could be “many times” that amount.

In New Zealand dis­posal costs were cheap com­pared with some Euro­pean coun­tries, where it could cost five times to dis­pose of the same amount of plas­tic or tyres.

His ap­proach was based on in­tro­duc­ing smaller sys­tems rather than big­ger sys­tems that gob­ble up large vol­umes, a model he hoped would suit New Zealand with its rel­a­tively small cen­tres.

“New Zealand is a coun­try of small towns and rel­a­tively small cities,” he said.

The com­pany was granted re­source con­sent from Hori­zons Re­gional Coun­cil and the new ma­chine was im­ported from Asia four months ago and was suc­cess­fully in­stalled and op­er­ated.

He said gain­ing re­source con­sent was a big step to­wards sus­tain­abil­ity.

“We be­lieve the big­gest type of stum­bling block to this tech­nol­ogy is hav­ing the ex­per­tise to work with au­thor­i­ties to get an ap­proved re­source con­sent,” he said.

To date the com­pany was partly sup­ported through a gov­ern­ment grant, but the end game was to have a sus­tain­able busi­ness model put in place.

Mr Ram­sey was pas­sion­ate about the new ven­ture and looked upon used plas­tic bags and tyres as an un­tapped re­source.

“One man’s rub­bish is an­other man’s trea­sure. Ev­ery time I see a pile of plas­tic I see a pud­dle of oil,” he said.

“It’s not a plas­tic bag’s fault that a hu­man has let go of it. If we can re­cover hy­dro­car­bon or oil from a sin­gle-use plas­tic bag then it has to be a good thing,” he said.

Peo­ple needed to un­der­stand that if they wanted to stop ex­port­ing of New Zealand’s waste to other coun­tries then it came at a cost.

“We have to pay a bit more to have it dis­posed of bet­ter,” he said.

He was ex­cited about its po­ten­tial to grow not only in New Zealand, but also in Pa­cific Is­land na­tions, and he was also work­ing closely with the Solomon Is­lands.

“We think we’ve got prob­lems,” he said.

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New­fu­els NZ man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Leigh Ram­sey with the new im­ported ma­chine that he hopes will bring change to New Zealand at­ti­tudes to­wards waste.

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