Norwegian tyre recycler Wastefront is building a EUR 117 million plant in the UK which is intended to help eliminate the exports of used tyres.
Wastefront expects the facility in Sunderland to be commercially operational by 2024 and, once at full capacity, to handle 80 000 tonnes of end-of-life tyres (ELTs) per year. This represents roughly 20% of the UK’s total volume.
Contracts are already in place with major tyre processors and rubber aggregate players such as Gateway Resources. Key market players will provide some 10 million tyres annually for recycling.
Wastefront will use commercial operating technologies to convert the ELTs into useful commodities, including biofuels and recovered carbon black. These are then reintroduced into the supply chain to allow the production of, for example, alternative fuel or recycled tyres.
Using recovered carbon black instead of virgin carbon black in tyre production will result in an 80% reduction in total emissions.
The recycler hopes the new facility will pave the way for ‘long overdue’ domestic progress on cement kiln burning. While incinerating tyres was previously seen as a step forward for the UK, because it created supply chains for ELTs, it is now viewed as one of the most polluting processes.
‘Tackling the scourge of ELTs at scale and pace, whilst creating a truly circular economy, is a key part of our mission,’ says Wastefront ceo Vianney Valès. He believes the partnership with Gateway Resources gives the UK a ‘world leading position in resolving this serious waste issue’.
‘We are proud to spearhead such significant progress,’ he adds. ‘We cannot continue with our dependency on new and scarce materials whilst continuing to burn existing materials with devastating and immediate environmental consequences.’
As a next step, Wastefront and Gateway have signed a memorandum of understanding for a tyre recycling plant in continental Europe.
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