The £100m plans for a tyre recycling plant in Sunderland have taken a major step forward with a landmark deal.

Norwegian waste tyre recycling company Wastefront has announced a pivotal agreement with Gateway Resources that guarantees the complete supply of end-of-life-tyres (ELTs) for Wastefront’s Port of Sunderland project.

Backed by energy giant Vitol, Wastefront secured planning permission in January 2022 to build the £100million tyre recycling plant in Sunderland, which is set to be commercially operational by 2024. Once at full capacity, the plant will be able to manage 20% of the UK’s total ELTs through processing 80,000 tonnes annually, with Gateway Resources to supply Wastefront with nearly 10 million tyres every year.

Read more: 100 jobs at Sunderland site for £100m tyre recycling plant

Significantly, this figure corresponds to a substantial volume of the total tyres that are currently exported from the UK abroad yearly. Today’s announcement will play a crucial role in eliminating the UK’s waste tyres export altogether, by creating a local solution to a global problem. With contracts already in place with some of the largest processors across the UK, Gateway Resources will work in conjunction with key suppliers to supply ELTs to Wastefront.

In addition to eliminating waste tyre exports from the UK - which too often end up in landfills, or being burnt, with huge environmental consequences - today’s announcement also paves the way for overdue domestic progress on cement kiln burning. Though the burning of ELTs in cement kilns was a step forward for the UK, creating crucial supply chains for ELTs, it remains one of the most polluting forms of manufacturing in the world - polluting the air with dangerous chemical particles, aromatics and CO2.

Through preventing the burning of ELTs in cement kilns, Wastefront will use commercial operating technologies to convert the ELTs received from Gateway into useful commodities, including biofuels and recovered carbon black. These are then reintroduced into the supply chain and utilised in processes such as alternative fuel or raw materials for the production of new tyres or other products. In particular, Wastefront’s recovered carbon black will result in an 80% reduction in total emissions - through its replacement of virgin carbon black in tyre production - with key tyre manufacturers already lining up to purchase this recycled material at source.

Following the execution of the supply agreement for the Port of Sunderland plant, Wastefront and Gateway have also signed an MOU to work together towards implementing an additional ELT supply agreement for a potential Wastefront plant in continental Europe, which is under review.

Wastefront CEO, Vianney Valès, said: “Our agreement with Gateway Resources is a key part of our mission - tackling the scourge of ELTs at scale and pace, whilst creating a truly circular economy in tandem. It is unparalleled both in the UK and Europe. Such an agreement suddenly gives the UK a world leading position in the resolution of this serious waste issue, and we are proud to spearhead such significant progress.

“We cannot continue with our dependency on new and scarce materials whilst continuing to burn existing materials with devastating and immediate environmental consequences. To solve the problem, Wastefront is proposing a solution that is both circular and at scale. Gateway Resources is the right partner, able to aggregate the large volumes of ELT that we will recycle into tyres or other valuable products. This agreement is yet another key element of the ecosystem that Wastefront is creating to tackle the problem of ELT. ”

Gateway Resources Director, Soham Khemka, said: “The core ethos of our company has always been economically sound and environmentally conscious trading. Our agreement with Wastefront reflects this commitment.”


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