Upcycling Waste for Conservation

 In News, Restoration, Tree Planting

Even in remote areas such as the Daintree, dumped tyres are an environmental issue. Rainforest Rescue has been working with Bridgestone Australia to find one solution to this continuing problem – Upcycling!

Over 600 old tyres had to be removed from a property along Rosewood Road before any rainforest conservation work could be undertaken. In addition to tyre dumping, illegal vehicle access to rainforest properties has caused significant damage to newly planted trees.

In 2010 Rainforest Rescue purchased Lot 46 in the Daintree to rescue the degraded rainforest site. Over 180 tons of debris were removed from the property including dumped tyres. We planted over 40,000 trees to help restore the rainforest habitat to its former glory. Disaster struck in 2016 when some idiots in a Ute illegally drove onto the site and purposefully destroyed an area of newly planted trees. Action was needed to prevent this from reoccurring.

We looked for a long-lasting solution that would prevent vehicles from entering protected rainforest and destroying seedlings or illegally dumping old tyres and treads in the forest. Re-using rubber from old dumped tyres seemed to be an appropriate material to make vehicle barriers. However, we also wanted to make sure any solution had a low environmental and visual impact. Working with Bridgestone Australia we contacted a number of tyre recycling companies to find a solution.

After a number of failed designs from different manufacturers, John Dobozy at Molectra Technologies came up with a viable solution using vulcanisation of old rubber crumb – importantly not using any chemicals in the recycling/upcycling process. Molectra has manufactured 12 prototype recycled tyre bollards that represents a double win for the environment by stopping vehicle access, protecting one of the oldest rainforests on the planet and providing a new use for old tyres.

“It’s been an interesting process trying to develop a sustainable solution to the problem. Over the past 18 months we’ve learned a lot about reuse and recycling of rubber! Reseach and Development projects always throw out interesting challenges, but with patience and professionality these have been navigated and now we have recycled tyre bollards in the ground protecting trees – result!”  

– Julian Gray, CEO Rainforest Rescue

We’re currently testing the prototype bollards to protect the latest tree planting at the new Cape Kimberley Wildlife Corridor. We’re monitoring the effectiveness of the bollards and will report back on progress. In 2-3 years the trees will be big enough to form their own barrier and we will remove the bollards to use elsewhere – following the ethos of reduce > reuse > recycle > upcycle to lessen our footprint on the planet.

This project has been supported through Bridgestone’s Tomorrow Matters initiative, which seeks to find new and better ways of using technology, such as upcycling; encourage our children to find solutions for tomorrow; and help ensure a healthy environment for generations to come

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