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Trelleborg switches to biomass at Sri Lanka tire manufacturing facility

Trelleborg Wheel Systems, a subsidiary of Sweden-headed engineered polymer solutions major Trelleborg, has announced that it will "fully re-engineer" its Sri Lanka facility’s steam production process through the introduction of an advanced biomass boiler. This major investment will not only reduce the plant’s environmental footprint, but it will also improve production efficiency.

Trelleborg Wheel Systems, a subsidiary of Sweden-headed engineered polymer solutions major Trelleborg, will “fully re-engineer” its Sri Lanka facility’s steam production process with an advanced biomass boiler (photo courtesy Trelleborg).

Trelleborg Wheel Systems is a leading global supplier of tires and complete wheels for agricultural machines, material handling, construction vehicles, motorcycles, bicycle, and other specialty segments. The Trelleborg facility, located in Makola, close to Colombo, employees over 850 people and produces solid tires for the material handling and port industries, as well as pneumatic tires for light agricultural applications.

While the production of steam is essential to the tire curing process, it is traditionally carried out by a furnace oil boiler, which is responsible for substantial carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Now, Trelleborg is investing in an advanced, biomass-fired boiler which reduces CO2 emission by over 90 percent.  The new process, the value of which has not been disclosed, will be fully operational starting from June 2019.

The investment is in line with the company target to address the environmental performance across the entire tire life cycle, from the design to the end of life, to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of production processes and products. The introduction of a new biomass-fired boiler will also improve transformation cost efficiency, reducing the impact of raw material fluctuation for customers, while maintaining product competitiveness in the market. The initiative is in line with Trelleborg’s Blue Dimension approach to sustainability, which focuses on combining environmental benefits with benefits for the customers in terms of higher efficiency and productivity, said Paolo Pompei, President at Trelleborg Wheel Systems.

According to Trelleborg, the traditional tire manufacturing process at the facility is currently responsible for over 11 000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents and 3.5 million liters of furnace oil consumption annually. With the introduction of the biomass system, the carbon footprint will be reduced to less than 1 000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents per year – signifying a 90 percent reduction.

In addition, the supply of biomass needed for the production output will be entirely fulfilled by local producers, thus shortening the supply, further reducing the carbon footprint and supporting the local economy.

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