Tyre recycler, Mathe Group and Van Dyck, manufacturer of recycled rubber flooring, (sister companies within the PFE International Group of companies), are staging a multi-million-rand comeback with multiple investments in their businesses in Hammarsdale, Kwazulu-Natal.
British investor and CEO of both Van Dyck and Mathe Group, Dr Mehran Zarrebini, said that the pandemic had provided time to plan future expansions and put in place a strategy that will further consolidate the supply chain that links Mathe Group, which recycles radial truck tyres to produce rubber crumb, and Van Dyck, which manufactures value added products such as rubber flooring and paving for gyms, fitness areas and playgrounds as well as ballistic tiles, acoustic underlays and livestock mats from this raw material.
“It accelerated the need to change as a business and to pivot away from soft flooring and into the manufacture of sustainable rubber products,” he explains. To facilitate this, Van Dyck not only moved existing machinery for producing moulded goods from the south Durban factory that it sold in 2020, but also purchased and commissioned additional plants to increase output. This was part of a broader strategy to ensure that the entire Hammarsdale operation is completely vertically aligned with both moulding and recycling done on the same premises.
Dr Zarrebini explains that, up until then, the moulding division of Van Dyck was a much smaller focus of the overall business. It has been operating 24/7 as a standalone business since the beginning of 2022. We are processing radial truck tyres only at our facility. The growing piles of waste tyres consists of all types of tyres. Our clients have a preference towards GTR (Ground Tyre Rubber) derived from radial truck tyres due to the higher percentage of natural rubber content. Passenger tyres provide an additional waste stream (fibre) which has a very limited re-use in South Africa unlike the EU which has developed novel ways of utilising this waste in concrete applications.
Furthermore, we test the rubber crumb that we produce for Toxicology and Polycyclic Aromatic Compounds (PAH) and hence we have found that by using only one type of tyre, we are able ensure we meet EU legislation. We have worked with the Waste Bureau since the demise of REDISA and have had a processing agreement in place since they became the custodian of the waste tyre management plan. We provide a forecast based on our requirements and they deliver the waste tyres to our premises using both primary and secondary transporters. We have not experienced delivery problems with the Waste Bureau and continue to provide them with up to date forecasts on an ongoing basis.
With respect to the waste tyre management plan, the uncertainty with how this will be managed moving forward and the limitations of the proposed changes to the plan in its current form will not instil confidence in organisations wishing to enter the industry. There is far too much friction and many barriers to entry across multiple stakeholders. I have just returned from providing insight into these limitations and the challenges in South Africa wrt tyre recycling in Belgium where I presented at the European Tyre Recycling Conference. South Africa has unique challenges to overcome in order to foster innovation in this sector. Much of the friction stems from unnecessary bureaucracy.