Conveyor belts are the second largest rubber waste stream in Australia. Conveyor belts can be reconditioned, reused or recycled to recover both rubber and steel. Diverting these large waste items from landfill helps to reduce demand on petroleum and rubber manufacturing.
Rubber conveyors belts at the end of their lifespan are large and cumbersome waste items and are the second largest rubber waste problem after used tyres. Left on site conveyor belts may present fire and safety hazards. While placing them in landfill is costly, represents a loss of valuable resources and may contaminate the environment. Rubber conveyor belts can be effectively recycled, reused or reconditioned. Reconditioning a damaged belt is cheaper than purchasing a new belt while reuse and recycling result in supply of affordable rubber products including floor mats, sheeting, rubber rails and stabilisation covering for sand dunes and soil. Additionally these actions reduce energy and reduces need to produce rubber from virgin material, including petroleum which used in the production of synthetic rubbers.
There are a select number of commercial operators who can recondition and/or recycle conveyor belts, as this process requires specialised equipment and skills. There are also number of second hand dealers who buy and sell used conveyor belts.
Reconditioning a conveyor belt involves the removal of the worn belt surface by a special buffing machine and then re-application of a new rubber top cover, followed by re-vulcanisation of the entire belt.
Recycling a conveyor belt involves the removal of steel reinforcement cords, which are cut out of the belt. These large steel cords are valuable and are also recovered for recycling. The belt is then sliced in to smaller sections for use in matting or rubber tiles. Otherwise it may be hole punched for use in stabilising solutions for sand dunes, waterways and paths.
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