Black Bear invests US$12.8m in tire recycling technology

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Every year, 1.5 billion tires reach the end of their life. The vast majority get dumped or incinerated, releasing massive amounts of CO₂ and destroying highly valuable resources.

To solve this waste tire problem, Black Bear has developed a unique carbonization process to transform used tires into recovered carbon black.

The company has now successfully closed a growth funding round of 11m (US$12.8m) to refine the environmentally friendly process and to start the worldwide roll-out of the technology.

Four new partners have become stakeholders: Dutch banking corporation ING Group; two Netherlands-based investment firms, 5square and Social Impact Ventures; and Thailand-based conglomerate SCG.

“This new consortium means much more than just fresh capital, they are strategic partners, who will play a key role in the development of our technology and speed up our international roll-out,” said Black Bear CEO Martijn Lopes Cardozo.

Existing investors, including the original funders Chemelot Ventures and DOEN Participaties (Ventures), have also contributed to the round.

Black Bear’s industrial-scale prototype plant is located in Nederweert in the Netherlands. It is capable of processing more than one million waste tires annually, producing 5,000 tonnes of carbon black, 5,000 tonnes of bio-fuel, 3,000 tonnes of steel and 1MW hour of green electricity. The plant is operated in partnership with Kargro, one of Europe’s foremost recyclers of tires.

Mark Weustink, director of the corporate investment team at ING Group, said, “It is remarkable that Black Bear is capable of making old tires into a very high-value product that can replace a polluting raw material.

“During the process, they also generate energy, which means the production process is highly energy-efficient. With its pioneering circular model, Black Bear creates durable change, and it has already won some large clients such as AkzoNobel.”

Cholanat Yanaranop, president of the chemicals business at SCG, commented, “We are highly committed to the circular economy and Black Bear is addressing a global problem, especially in significantly improving the carbon footprint of carbon black production. As an integrated petrochemical company that focuses on creating sustainability along with innovations, we are highly interested in the success of Black Bear’s solution.”

Helmer Schukken, co-founder and partner at Social Impact Ventures, said, “We believe in the huge positive environmental impact of the technology – especially since the Black Bear product can compete with virgin carbon black in terms of cost price and quality. Another reason for our investment is the great management team, which consists of not only talented engineers but also seasoned professionals in sales, finance and other functions required for global roll-out.”

Mark Gitsels, founder and partner at 5square, added, “When you really think about it, it’s unbelievable that only 10% of our resources are currently part of circular economies. That’s why we full-heartedly support the outstanding management team of Black Bear. Their disruptive technology is an opportunity for us to help make the world that bit better and at the same time yield attractive returns.”

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Rachel's career in journalism began around five years ago when she started working for UKi Media & Events, having recently graduated from Coventry University where she studied the subject. Her favourite aspect of the job is interviewing industry experts, including researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians, and learning more about the ground-breaking technologies and innovations that are shaping the future of the automotive and tire industries.

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