TYRE companies in South Africa have been ordered to adhere to government's costly recycling plan, which they vehemently oppose, until a court decides later this year whether the scheme should be scrapped or not.
Earlier this week, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that tyre manufacturers, dealers and importers who are members of the SA Tyre Recycling Process Company (SATRP) must join government's Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of SA's (Redisa) waste tyre management plan while they await a decision on the alternative plan.
The SATRP board has sent its revised plan to Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa for her approval, but in the interim the court has ruled that its members, who make up 84% of South Africa's formal tyre and motor industry, need to subscribe to the Redisa plan by today in accordance with the law.
SATRP board chairman Riaan van Niekerk said this decision had massive financial implications for the industry as they would now need to spend millions to upgrade computer systems and pay levies as from October 1 to comply with the Redisa plan.
The board had asked the court for a two-part order, an interdict to stop Molewa from threatening any of its members with cancellation of their import permits or criminal prosecution.
They also tried to get an order on whether its members had to subscribe to the minister's plan pending the approval of their own plan.
However, Acting Judge Piet van der Byl said he failed to see how any of SATRP's members would be prejudiced if they were required to register and comply with the plan as they would be free to deregister, with no financial implications, within 120 days' notice.
Meanwhile, an urgent court application brought by the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) organisation to have the Redisa plan scrapped, has been postponed to November 8 and 9.
Barnard Incorporated attorney Douw Breed, representing the RMI, said the organisation believed the Redisa plan was seriously flawed and hoped to get a review of the minister's decision to approve the plan.
"We are very relieved that the judge has found the matter to be urgent. If not then it would have been postponed until the middle of next year, causing the industry irreparable harm.
"We believe that asking the industry to subscribe to Redisa while we wait for the case to be heard is not such a huge liability," he said. Goodyear Tyre Group public relations manager Lize Hayward said the company would be joining the Redisa plan, as required by law.
"The cost for Goodyear to adapt its systems has still to be determined," she said.
Continental Tyre SA corporate communications manager Gishma Johnson said the company supported the government's Integrated Industry Waste Tyre Management Plan.
"For the time being, the Redisa waste tyre plan is the only plan gazetted and all South African tyre producers, importers of tyres, original equipment manufacturers and retailers are obliged to register with Redisa by [today]," she said.