Ridding the country of used tyres - one at a time

Ecopreneur changing the face of tyre recyvling

18 June 2020 | Environment

Windhoek • [email protected]
Ecopreneur is the new buzz word when it comes to recycling and Windhoeker is working hard to make sure he does his bit to keep the environment clean.
Desmond Kheibeb, the managing partner at Derenas Tyre Recycling, focuses on exactly that: Recycling tyres. “Used tyres pose a serious environmental challenge and there are serious hazards associated with stockpiling used tyres, such as uncontrollable fires,” he says. There is also the problem of illegal dumping, which results in pollutants and promotes growth of pests and insects. And burning tyres leads to the emission of harmful compounds.
Recycling tyres has been the main focus so far but for Desmond it is not enough to get rid of the massive number of waste tyres generated each year. “There are alternatives, such as retreading, but it comes with major limitations,” he says, adding that they are looking at more eco-friendly recycling alternatives. “As ecopreneurs we belief we can play our part in reducing the carbon footprint being left behind by many end users.”
At Derenas the team is hard at work engaging different stakeholders. They are the first company trying to get this project up and running in Namibia, but have faced many challenges, funding being the biggest obstacle to overcome. “Banks are reluctant to assist previously disadvantaged young Namibians and government is silent on proper regulations for used tyres and thus can’t assist companies that came up ideas, even though there are levies being paid on imported tyres,” he argues.
Another challenge is finding efficient recycling technologies for tyres because of its composition. “Tyres are made of rubber, carbon black, steel and some additives, which is difficult to break down and separate, making reprocessing hugely challenging. That is why there is a big need to develop new technologies. We believe we have found the right and most eco-friendly way of processing used tyres without damaging the environment,” Desmond explains.

Firsthand knowledge
The initiative started in 2016, after they opened a tyre repair workshop and they realised there is more they can do with the large stock of used tyres scattered around the country. “We visited potential suppliers and even tyre recycling operators in China and India to get firsthand knowledge of how the operations of such a business is run.”
He says there are common misconceptions about tyre recycling that may discourage consumers from properly recycling their tyres, such as cost and time. But, according to Desmond tyre recycling has some unique differences compared to how other items are recycled, making it easy and affordable.
“When tyres are not discarded of correctly, they create pollution. While there are misconceptions that tyre disposal is too time consuming and costly, there are actually numerous benefits to getting rid of tyres correctly. Recycling creates jobs, which helps the economy. Also, if you run a company, like a trucking fleet operation, recycling your tyres can appeal to environmentally conscious consumers.”
Desmond notes that scrap tyre material has become a valuable resource across many different industries including fuel, construction materials, crumb rubber and remoulded tyres.
The team are urging government through the ministry of environment, forestry and tourism to avail resources to initiatives such as theirs and that new and used tyre retailers be charged a fee that can be used to cover the cost of properly recycling scrap tyres.
“Part of these fees are paid to professional tyre recycling companies that contract retailers to pick up their waste tyres on a regular basis. These tyres will then be taken to a local processing facility, where their journey to a new life as a recycled product begins.”
Feel free to donate your worn-out tyres to Derenas. For more information, send an email to [email protected]

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