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Wastefront selects Port of Sunderland for first tyre pyrolysis plant

Norway-based startup Wastefront AS has announced that it has selected the Port of Sunderland in the UK as the location of its first tyre recycling plant. The plant is being designed to convert regionally sourced end-of-life tyres (ELTs) into liquid hydrocarbons and carbon black, which can then be used in processes to make alternative fuels or rubber products manufacturing. Construction is set to begin in 2021.

Norway-based startup Wastefront AS has announced that it has selected the Port of Sunderland in the UK as the location of its first tyre recycling plant. The plant is being designed to convert regionally sourced end-of-life tyres (ELTs) into liquid hydrocarbons and carbon black, which can then be used in processes to make alternative fuels or rubber products manufacturing. Construction is set to begin in 2021 (image courtesy Port of Sunderland).

Founded in Oslo in 2019, by Inge Berge (CEO), Christian A. Hvamstad (CSO), and Vegard Bringsjord (CFO), Wastefront is a rubber waste recycling company that through a combination of proven and proprietary technology processes converts disused and end-of-life-tyres (ELT) into useful commodities.

These include liquid hydrocarbons and carbon black that can then be reutilized in processes such as alternative fuel manufacturing or ground rubber production.

The Port of Sunderland plant has been designed to include 12 pyrolytic reactors designed to thermally decompose an ELT. The full industrial-scale plant will have the capacity to process 180 tonnes of ELT per day to produce 60 tonnes of carbon black per day.

Additionally, the plant will be able to produce 90 tonnes of liquid hydrocarbons per day, which according to Wastefront, can be refined to produce fuel products, such as ethane, propane, butane, diesel, and gasoline. The heat generated from the plant processes will be repurposed locally within industry or used to heat residential homes.

Norwegian funding

The decision to invest in Port of Sunderland was influenced by co-founder and director, Christian A. Hvamstad, an alumnus of the University of Sunderland.

The construction of our first-ever plant with the Port of Sunderland marks a huge step in Wastefront’s efforts to combat the global issue of ELT waste. Our ambition is to create a new circular economy for dealing with waste issues, and a crucial element of sustainable waste handling is to be able to do so locally, said Christian A. Hvamstad, Chief Strategy Officer at Wastefront.

The construction of the plant – subject to planning and regulatory approval – is expected to begin in early 2021 and expected to generate around 100 jobs in the region. Once fully up and running, in the second half of 2022, the company will employ as many as 30 full-time members of staff.

Wastefront’s first plant in Sunderland will represent a valuable contribution to a cleaner future by dealing with a specific waste problem, where end-of-life tyres no longer end up in landfills in overseas countries but instead are converted into useful commodities that can be used within the region. The UK is a global centre of industry which we want to be a part of, while Sunderland is the ideal location for our first plant due to its geographical location, access to feedstock, strong local support, and Sunderland’s history as an industrial city, Christian A. Hvamstad said.

The company has received funding from the Norwegian state-owned company and national development bank, Innovation Norway, and it is supported by the Research Council of Norway. It will also be seeking additional investors in the UK and elsewhere.

Part of Port transformation investment

The Port of Sunderland is currently undergoing a major transformation bolstered by a GBP 8.2 million (≈ EUR 9.15 million) investment after areas of its estate was granted Enterprise Zone (EZ) status in 2017 – with a key aim of attracting new investment – and Wastefront is the latest in a string of businesses to invest in the North Sea hub.

We are delighted that Wastefront has chosen to construct its first-ever plant at Port of Sunderland and we are looking forward to working with Christian and the team to bring their vision to life. The Port of Sunderland is currently undergoing a major transformation, with over £8 million being pumped into improving its roads and infrastructure, and the decision by Wastefront to invest here shows just how much confidence this is breeding among our stakeholders and the wider market, said Matthew Hunt, Director of Port of Sunderland.

The port is owned by Sunderland City Council who have led the charge with investment, with land and equipment acquisitions that have spurred on the development of the estate, as well as significant improvements to infrastructure to pave the way for investment.

The Port of Sunderland is a significant asset, both in terms of its traditional shipping activity capabilities and its ability to become an economic driver, attracting jobs and investment into the city. We have seen the estate transformed over the last decade, and more and more investment is pouring in, which is in itself helping to capture the attention of investors and business occupiers.  This latest announcement demonstrates just how attractive a proposition our port is becoming and it’s great to have attracted this Scandinavian firm – we know that Nordic countries are among the leaders in the world when it comes to renewables and green technology, so it’s fantastic to attract foreign investment that will bring that to Sunderland and the UK, remarked Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council and Chair of the Port Board.

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