Norwegian waste tire recycling company Wastefront has announced an agreement with Gateway Resources to ensure the supply of end-of-life tires (ELTs) for Wastefront’s Port of Sunderland, UK, plant.
Backed by energy giant Vitol, Wastefront secured planning permission in January 2022 to build the £100m (US$126m) 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, processing 80,000 tons annually.
Gateway will supply Wastefront with nearly 10 million tires every year, which is a substantial proportion of the total tires currently exported from the UK each year. With contracts already in place with some of the largest ELT processors and aggregators across the UK, Gateway Resources will work with key suppliers to supply ELTs to Wastefront.
In addition to reducing waste tire exports from the UK, the announcement 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 extremely polluting, discharging dangerous chemical particles, aromatics and CO2 into the air.
By 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 can then be reintroduced into the supply chain and utilized in processes such as alternative fuel or raw materials to produce new tires or other products.
Wastefront and Gateway have also signed an MoU to work together to implement an additional ELT supply agreement for a potential Wastefront plant in continental Europe, which is under review.
“Our agreement with Gateway Resources is a key part of our mission – tackling the scourge of ELTs at scale and pace while creating a truly circular economy in tandem,” said Wastefront CEO, Vianney Valès. “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 while 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 tires or other valuable products. This agreement is yet another key element of the ecosystem that Wastefront is creating to tackle the problem of ELT.”
“The core ethos of our company has always been economically sound and environmentally conscious trading,” added Gateway Resources director, Soham Khemka. “Our agreement with Wastefront reflects this commitment, with their scaled solution for one of the significant environmental problems of our time – the burning of raw materials – paving the way for the elimination of unnecessary exports from the UK altogether.
“We have long been engaged with regulators to find a local, more sustainable solution to replace our existing shipping routes for ELTs across the world. Wastefront is the first player to tackle the ELT problem at scale across Europe, with the significance of their plans having a massive impact on the industry. Wastefront is going head on with the necessary evils of exporting waste, finally rendering it unnecessary and truly building a circular economy both at home and abroad.”