VTTI and Wastefront to jointly develop end-of-life tyre recycling plants
VTTI today announces a strategic partnership with Wastefront, the Norwegian waste tyre recycling company, to develop multiple end-of-life tyre recycling plants at VTTI locations around the globe within a five-year period. The investment in Wastefront and planned investments in future plants are part of VTTI’s global growth strategy in which circular products are an important pillar, with an ambition to conduct more than 50% of its activities in new and transitional energy sources by 2028.
The partnership between Wastefront and VTTI will take two initial forms: firstly, an investment from VTTI of up to USD 43 million in Wastefront, to be used in the construction starting this year of the first phase of Wastefront’s plant in the Northeast of England, at the Port of Sunderland. The first phase of the Sunderland plant is foreseen to be fully operational in 2026. Secondly, site selection surveys are conducted to determine eight jointly owned VTTI-Wastefront plants at which Wastefront’s solution will be implemented, and which will be operated by VTTI. The partnership will enable Wastefront to expedite deployment, utilising VTTI’s industry-leading expertise, existing global footprint, and terminal locations.
Wastefront uses pyrolytic reactors that utilise thermal depolymerization known as ‘pyrolysis’ to break down a tyre’s materials at elevated temperatures. By sending tyres through these reactors, carbon black is produced, in addition to combustible gas, liquid hydrocarbon (pyrolysis oil), and heat. The carbon black is then washed and milled to upgrade the chemical properties and used as a reinforcement for natural rubber in tyre production, mechanical rubber goods, or as a filler for plastics, under precise formulations defined with customers.
The circular process of recycling end-of-life tyres contributes to the EU Green Deal, bringing a circular sustainable economy closer. An estimated 31 million metric tonnes of End-of-Life tyres (ELT) currently complete their lifespan each year. Due to their complex blend of materials, tyres are highly durable and not naturally biodegradable, which makes them a growing global environmental problem. At present, most ELTs worldwide end up either in landfills or are incinerated. The recycling plants can contribute to solving this hard-to-abate problem where end-of-life tyres are converted into useful and valuable products, including pyrolysis oil and recovered carbon black, which can then be reutilised in processes such as alternative fuel manufacturing and ground rubber production.
Guy Moeyens, VTTI CEO, comments: “We are pleased to enter into a strategic partnership with Wastefront on this exciting journey to jointly develop tyre recycling plants at our locations around the globe. We are looking forward to working together with Wastefront in making this important contribution to the circular economy. Wastefront is a complementary partner of VTTI that brings in a fully developed and technologically proven tyre recycling offering, an experienced team, an extensive network in feedstock markets and recognition from tyre manufacturers. Our combined efforts will be able to turn a current large and growing global waste problem into products like pyrolysis oil and recovered carbon black, which are highly sought after in the ongoing energy transition.”
Vianney Vales, Wastefront CEO, adds: “Our mission to create a Green Global Industrial Platform to solve the end-of-life tyre problem, requires buy-in from major industrial companies. VTTI is a leading infrastructure company with a clear mission to grow in the energy transition and I am delighted to announce our partnership. This is the first time that our Wastefront Blueprint solution for circularity will be licensed on a global stage. VTTI has opted to go a step further and not just deploy our solution but also invest in Wastefront and in future plants. The investment will immediately enable us to scale our work at the Port of Sunderland, and to grow our market reach with the development of eight plants at VTTI sites worldwide.”
Wastefront was founded in Oslo in 2019 and aims to reduce the negative environmental impact associated with end-of-life-tyre waste while delivering an economically attractive solution to strategic partners on a global scale. Wastefront combines commercial technology with its own proprietary process to minimise the environmental impact typically associated with traditional tyre pyrolysis, with a circular process. The first commercial plant in Sunderland will be built in two phases, with the first phase of operation requiring an investment of GBP 100 million. At full capacity, the facility will process 83,000 metric tonnes of ELTs annually and convert them into useful commodities including biofuels, recycled steel, and recovered carbon black. This will set the standard for the future plants using the Wastefront Blueprint licence. Wastefront has received funding from the Eurostars Eureka program, the Norwegian state-owned company and national development bank Innovation Norway, Vitol, and is supported by government agency, The Research Council of Norway (Skattefunn). The company will be raising investment from UK, Nordic and international investors, in order to facilitate the construction of the plant in Sunderland.