The Mathe Group’s Hammarsdale plant, in KwaZulu-Natal, has quadrupled employment and more than doubled output since coming on stream in 2016, says the tyre recycler.
Dr Mehran Zarrebini, head of British investment group PFE International, which is one of the major shareholders in the Mathe Group, says the recycling of tyres could evolve into a growth industry in South Africa, despite the liquidation of REDISA.
Zarrebini says many people believe that the recycling of tyres in South Africa is not sustainable because of limited demand for rubber crumb and substantial set up costs.
Initially, small companies using antiquated equipment struggled to compete with imported product subsidised by governments in the countries of origin.
The Mathe Group was one such operation. It started out producing rubber crumb in limited quantities from a small factory in New Germany, Durban, in 2012.
A joint venture with PFE International followed. The JV was formed to ensure the supply of rubber crumb to Van Dyck Floors.
The Mathe Group moved to a new R2-million processing facility in Hammarsdale, which came on stream in 2016. The plant processed 65 000 tyres during its first year.
Zarrebini says there is a steady stream of used truck tyre deliveries from depots operated by the Waste Management Bureau, which is responsible for tyre recycling until a new tyre recycling plan is put in place by government.
The Mathe Group currently consumes between 30 t to 40 t of used truck tyres a day. Each month, the Hammarsdale factory produces around 600 t of rubber crumb. Zarrebini says the plant is likely to run into capacity constraints soon.
“As a result, we are investigating the introduction of a new line that will not only increase output, but give us more flexibility.
“We can then move from recycling only standard truck tyres to car tyres and truck tyres of different sizes.”
The Mathe group is also investing in equipment to remove the main steel rim from the tyres ahead of the crumbing process.
Investment in a new baling machine that will compress the steel will enable this to be done more efficiently.