TYRE MANUFACTURERS OPPOSE DRASTIC CHANGES IN LEGISLATION ON RECYCLING OF USED TYRES
In light of the current need to consolidate the institute of extended producer responsibility (EPR) being discussed in the Russian Federation, members of the Tyre Manufacturers Association believe it is necessary to outline where they stand on this issue.
Extended producer responsibility is the term used all over the world to refer to the responsibility companies have to ensure the disposal of post-consumer products that these companies have sold, i.e. companies not only cover the cost to develop, produce and sell goods, they also bear additional costs for safely disposing of them after they have been used by consumers.
The EPR environmental policy approach was introduced in the Russian Federation in 2015 and applied to a wide range of products and their packaging including tyres. It is primarily each company’s own responsibility to fulfill this obligation, i.e. to ensure the necessary amount of waste is collected and disposed of. The Russian Government sets the recycling norms that determine annual waste quotas, which also depend on the level to which capacities for recycling certain types of waste have been developed, while norms are raised on a regular basis. For example, from 2016 to 2020, recycling norms for tyres have increased from 15% to 30%. Companies can recycle at their own facilities or enter into contracts with established waste management companies operating on the market in order to avail of their services for collecting, transporting and recycling waste, which includes delegating the task of finding and signing contracts with contractors to a non-profit organization created for this specific purpose in the industry. If a company does not wish to waste disposal or is not able to manage on its own, it must pay the state environmental fee.
Members of the TMA are among the world’s top tyre manufacturing companies, the majority of which have invested in manufacturing in the Russian Federation. These are environmentally responsible companies that fulfil their responsibility successfully and actively support the system for independent extended producer responsibility all the countries where they do business. By taking responsibility for recycling the waste on their own, companies that are TMA members are able to control of how recycling takes place and how funds are spent, and therefore allows them to ensure that the waste management system for post-consumer products is efficient, transparent and legal. TMA members have many years of experience putting EPR into practice themselves, which they are now applying in Russia. Since 2017, all tyre manufacturers and importers who are TMA members have been complying with the norms set for recycling tyres themselves, ensuring that the necessary quota of used tyres are recycled correctly.
There are calls currently being made for the legislation regulating how the EPR is implemented to be reviewed, as from the government’s point of view, the EPR system is not being implemented very effectively in practice.
The following key factors have been identified as critical points that need to be addressed:
1. Manufacturers and importers of goods are ignoring the need to comply with the EPR.
We believe that this is not the case in the tyre industry, as manufacturers and importers of this product can be easily identified in data from Rosstat and by the Federal Customs Service of Russia. In order to enforce the EPR, the Federal Supervisory Natural Resources Management Service (Rosprirodnadzor) can file an administrative case against companies that do not comply with the EPR. It is important to highlight that the penalties for these violations in the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offenses were made significantly heftier in the summer of 2019 (Federal Law of 17.06.2019 No. 141-FZ).
2. Producers practicing EPR provide unreliable reports on their own compliance with recycling norms.
TMA members support steps aimed at introducing greater penalization for fictitious waste disposal. All TMA members consider ensuring real waste disposal a priority. That is why recycling companies are not only subjected to detailed vetting before they are able to sign a contract with members, but there are also thorough audits conducted on a regular basis for the duration of the contract, which involves having video surveillance systems installed to confirm that waste is delivered to these processors regularly. If Rosprirodnadzor, as the authority responsible for controlling how EPR is implemented, does not have enough tools to verify and confirm that waste has in fact been disposed of correctly, then this should be the primary focus of work to improve the EPR environmental policy approach in Russia. TMA members believe that in order to combat dishonest processors, they need to be subject to stricter licensing requirements, and EPR producers and waste processors must submit their reports electronically so that Rosprirodnadzor can conduct online monitoring and cross-checks.
3. Recycling norms should be set to 100%, and should not act as a reduction coefficient in calculating the amount of responsibility companies need to take.
In 2020, tyres had one of the highest recycling norms among a range of different products at 30%. This percentage is consistent with how developed the current system is for collecting used tyres and the tyre recycling industry. Recycling norms for tyres in Russia have doubled since the EPR policy approach was introduced — from 15% to 30%. By gradually upping the recycling norms, the Russian Government is encouraging producers practicing EPR to increase waste collection, recycling facilities, and the market for products made from recycled tyres. TMA members support an annual increase of 5% in recycling norms for tyres, which allows progress to be made in each area (waste collection, recycling capacity, recycled product sales), without leading to a significant increase in the financial burden borne by the consumer who purchases tyres, because the cost of implementing the EPR is included in the product cost. When it comes to waste from used tyres, it must also be acknowledged that a 100% recycling norm is unattainable in practice, as consumers do not return every used tyre to have them recycled after they have used them for their intended purpose. Consumers can hold onto them and reuse them for their own needs, e.g. to create bedding around flower beds, in children's playgrounds (to make swings) and for other purposes. In European countries, implementing the EPR institute has allowed to reach a sustained recycling norm for used tyres of 80-90% for 20 years and reduce the amount of this type of waste sent to landfill. Given the European example, Russia should also be able to set maximum targets for recycling tyres at 80-90% in the long term.
4. The emphasis is on treating municipal solid waste (MSW).
For obvious reasons, the state focuses much of its attention on treating the residential waste produced and discarded by the public, rubbish disposal known as MSW. Many products and their packaging for which the Russian Federation has introduced the EPR are not sorted and currently end up as MSW for landfill after they have been used. Key questions to explore for this type of waste management are having a separate waste collection system introduced (waste sorting), reducing of public bin charges and having EPR cover the cost of waste collection services instead. However, tyres do not fall under the MSW category, they are not forms of residential waste, but come from other sources, such as tyre fitting and service centers, and vehicle dealerships selling tyres etc. These are the places where tyre manufacturers and importers are now actively working to develop projects in cooperation with processors, regional and municipal authorities, to collect tyres from individuals as part of their own obligation to implement the EPR policy. However, the EPR reforms propose automatically extending the policy approaches developed for EPR waste ending up as part of MSW to used tyres, which fails to take into account the specific nature of this waste and the fact that these types of waste are not MSW.
The tangible results of the responsible approach taken by tyre manufacturers and importers to implementing EPR practices can already be seen: the market for recycling used tyres is becoming more transparent, tyre collection projects are getting underway in many regions all over Russia, ethical waste processors are upgraded their facilities, their capacities are increasing, and markets for recycled products are developing. TMA members have reaffirmed their commitment to bearing the extra costs to implement EPR practices, ensuring used tyres are properly disposed to meet the steadily increasing recycling norms by cooperating with waste processors.
Tyre manufacturers and importers are calling for industry-wide regulation of waste management that takes into account the specific aspects of waste production, collection, and recycling technologies. Continuing to allow producers to exercise the EPR practices on their own through cooperation with the waste management companies operating on the market is of fundamental importance, as this system has not only proven effective abroad, but has also achieved success in Russia. The measures to improve the EPR policy approach which are currently being discussed should focus on stepping up the amount of monitoring by the state of how recycling norms are being implemented by the producers exercising EPR practices.