Leading the way in vehicle recycling

Published 2:25pm 29 July 2020

Words by Kylie Knight

Brisbane Isuzu has led by example when it comes to recycling vehicles and was happy to share what it has learnt with the Federal Government this week.

Dealer principal Alan Newcombe says his business is well-known for selling new vehicles, but has been actively recycling those at the end of their life cycles for about eight years, upping the ante six years ago.

His dealership at Burpengary is on 20 acres, and behind the impressive showroom of new vehicles is a series of engineering and manufacturing workshops, and recycling sections where vehicles are dismantled and components sold as spare parts or prepared for recycling.

Federal Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans toured the business, and discussed recycling opportunities on Tuesday (July 29), with Federal Member for Petrie Luke Howarth.

The visit follows the Federal Government’s announcement of a $1 billion transformation of the waste and recycling industry in early July.

Why this is important

Mr Newcombe says by selling new vehicles, he has an obligation to ensure they are recycled as much as possible at the end of their lives.

“Trucks are workhorses and once they reach a certain point, they’re not worth running. It’s too costly. If it has a job of doing 100,000km per year, that’s what it has to do,” Mr Newcombe says.

“When a vehicle reaches the point in its lifecycle when it’s not practical to refurbish, that’s when recycling is important.”

He’s been working with Action Metal Recyclers at Coopers Plains for about six years and says the team there can separate all metal from plastics and upholstery for reuse. His connection with Ronnie Reynolds from Action Metal goes back 45 years.

Mr Newcombe says they can sort 120 cars per hour in a machine he called ‘the shredder’, which is one of only a dozen or so in the world of that design.

At Brisbane Isuzu, they’re able to granulate copper, sort and sell spare parts and components, and break up and crush truck panels and bodies to more manageable pieces so they can be transported for recycling.

Mr Newcombe says a conservative estimate of his investment in plant and equipment for these purposes is about $500,000.

“It’s what I believe dealerships of the future will be,” he says.

What the Federal Government is doing

A key component of the Federal Government’s initiative is a $190 million Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF), which aims to generate $600 million in recycling investment and drive a billion-dollar transformation of Australia’s waste and recycling capacity.

More than 10,000 jobs are expected to be created and more than 10 million tonnes of waste diverted from landfill to making other products.

The RMF will support innovative investment in new infrastructure to sort, process and remanufacture materials such as mixed plastic, paper, tyres and glass.

Mr Evans stressed the importance of working with industry to bring on this turning point in waste and recycling.

“We want to put experts in charge so the industry comes forward with solutions, to say what will work so we can make recommendations with confidence,” he says.

“Our targeted investment will grow Australia’s circular economy, create more jobs and build a stronger onshore recycling industry.”

Mr Howarth says residents need to have confidence the waste they place in recycling bins is being recycled and re-manufactured into roads, carpets, furniture and building materials.

“This is an opportunity for us all to look at the contribution we can make in reducing waste and ensuring we are recycling properly on an individual level and as part of a community response,” he says.

Mr Newcombe says the meeting was very productive and he hopes to arrange a visit to Action Metal Recyclers for the Assistant Minister in the coming weeks.

Why now?

Australia must recycle around 650,000 additional tonnes of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres onshore each year by mid-2024 as the full Federal Government’s waste export ban comes into effect.

To meet this challenge, the Federal Government is driving a national approach to growing waste management and recycling capacity through technology and infrastructure.

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to remodel waste management, reduce pressure on the environment and create jobs.

For more information about the RMF, visit the website.

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