Greater enforcement against tyre recyclers operating illegally, rather than extra regulation, is needed to protect those who are compliant, the industry has warned.
Concerns follow the Tyre Recovery Association (TRA) conference, where the Environment Agency (EA) explained recent changes over sites, exemptions and regulations.
Senior EA adviser Howard Leberman said sites designated ‘low risk’ due to small volumes of waste would still require investigating to ensure they are complying with their exemption conditions.
The EA has recently issued a call for evidence to the industry, asking for examples of illegal activity to be submitted for investigation.
Delegates said more regulation was unnecessary while a lack of enforcement against organisations operating “dangerously” had left compliant firms unable to compete.
TRA secretary general Peter Taylor told MRW ahead of the event: “All extra regulation does is put more financial burden on the political players. They are staggering under the weight of the cost of all this. The exempt operations and the people at the margins can have a field day because the EA claims to lack enforcement resources.”
Government organisations were under pressure to act on tyre fires so they were concentrating on storage breaks and separation distances, according to Taylor.
He said: “A better investment would be on site security because most fires are arson-related. The answer is not regulation, it is better enforcement.
“They are very slow and it is just not good enough. I don’t see any real understanding of these issues within Defra or the EA. There is finally, after four years of pushing, a consultation deal on exemptions.”
The TRA celebrated its 10th anniversary at its Recycling Day conference on 19 June in Warwickshire, organised in partnership with the Retread Manufacturers’ Association.
Taylor said he is pleased with what the TRA has achieved, including a best practice scheme and a free market approach.