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London-based Wastefront has signed a deal with French engineer Technip Energies to design and build a £100 million tyre recycling plant in the North-East.
The facility in Sunderland will create 160 jobs when it opens in 2024 and is intended to become a blueprint for similar plants around the world to tackle a significant, but relatively unreported, source of pollution.
Wastefront, which has backing from Dutch oil trader Vitol, says it will be able to process around 10 million tyres a year.
The recycled material will be transformed into high-value commodities used in biofuels, recycled steel and rubber manufacturing.
Wastefront has received funding from the Eurostars Eureka program and Innovation Norway. It intends to raise further capital from UK and international investors to fund construction.
CEO Vianney Valès, a former Shell executive, said: “Having Technip Energies endorse our approach and support our project is yet another step in our ambition to build a world scale green industrial platform.”
Wastefront was founded in Oslo in 2019 and is now headquartered at offices in Mayfair.
It was launched to tackle the environmental damage caused by the dumping of 29 million metric tons of old tyres around the world.
Their manufacture from a complex blend of materials, including natural and synthetic rubber, fibre and wire has made them traditionally tricky to recycle meaning they often end up in landfill.
The EU has banned the disposal of whole tyres, but many countries now export to other countries with fewer restrictions.
While the world is shifting towards electric vehicles, the tyres on which these eco-friendlier vehicles roll have yet to be improved. Owners’ forums suggest Tesla tires tend to wear out between 20 ,000 and 40,000 miles.
Maria Moræus Hanssen, chair of the board at Wastefront, said: “For many years, end-of-life tyres have represented a problem for which there have been no long-term solutions available that combine innovation with economic viability.”
Arnaud Pieton, CEO of Technip, said: ”This project is fully aligned with our strategy to deploy our know-how and our resources to scaling up solutions accelerating the energy transition journey as well as positioning our company as a leading player of the circular economy”.