Wastefront to Build its First Tyre Waste Recycling Plant in the UK

Wastefront AS (www.wastefront.com) a Norwegian tyre waste recycling company, has announced Maria Moræus Hanssen, former Deputy CEO and COO at Europe’s leading oil and gas company, Wintershall DEA, as its Chairperson of the Board. Additionally, the company can now confirm its first plant will be located in the UK and is currently assessing sites, with a view to commencing construction in the near future.

Wastefront, founded in Oslo in 2019 by Inge Berge (CEO), Christian Armand Hvamstad (CSO and Director), and Vegard Bringsjord (CFO), converts disused tyres into useful commodities, including liquid hydrocarbons and carbon black, which can then be reutilised in processes such as alternative fuel or ground rubber manufacturing. Wastefront recently received funding from the Norwegian state-owned company and national development bank, Innovation Norway.

Heading up Wastefront’s board, Maria brings international experience from top-level positions within oil, gas and energy companies such as Hydro, Equinor, Aker and Engie, and has served as a board member of multiple Scandinavian industry leading companies – including Det norske oljeselskap ASA, Electromagnetic Geoservices ASA, and Yara International – over the past twenty years, with current, active board member positions at Alfa Laval, Scatec Solar and Oslo Bygg.

Additional board members of Wastefront announced today include co-founder Christian Armand Hvamstad, Halvor Ellefsen (Director – Head of Tankers London at Fearnleys), Jon Gausen (Partner at North Bridge Capital Partners Ltd) and Carl Fredrik Odfjell(Director at Rederiet Odfjell A/S).

Maria Moræus Hanssen comments: “I’m excited to join Wastefront and help address the global issue of unsustainable tyre waste. 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. I am confident that the founders have assembled a team that can make an valuable contribution to a cleaner future by dealing with this specific waste problem, where end-of-life tyres no longer end up in landfills.”

An important element in bringing about circular economies and sustainable waste handling is to handle waste locally. The UK is a global centre of industry, which makes it an ideal location for our first plant. The plan is to then expand across Europe as the technical solution and business concept continuously evolves.

About Wastefront and the environmental problem of End-of-Life Tyre (ELT) waste

The estimated 29 million metric tonnes of vehicle tyres which reach the end of their lifespan each year (Deloitte Global ELT Management Report, 2019) represent an underreported but major cause of pollution due to their non-biodegradability.

As End-of-Life Tyre (ELT) waste continues to grow, so does the need for innovation. From the output of Wastefront’s conversion process, tyre producers are also able to create new tyres, offering an opportunity for vehicle manufacturers to enhance the environmental credentials of their vehicles (currently, green automotive manufacturers are having to rely on tyres produced in the same manner as those made for traditional cars). Wastefront represents an important step towards a cleaner future through its dedication to develop environmentally friendly and sustainable recycling of tyres.

Through a combination of proven technology and proprietary processes, Wastefront aims to reduce the negative environmental impact associated with ELT waste, while delivering an economically attractive solution as well. The company, which was founded in Oslo in 2019, recently received funding from the Norwegian state-owned company and national development bank, Innovation Norway.

In an effort to combat tyre waste, in 2003, the EU Landfill Directive made it illegal to dispose of whole tyres, with the addition of shredded tyres in 2006. Many EU countries, however, are now exporting tyres abroad to nations with fewer restrictions. As a result, the effectiveness of the directive is consistently undermined as entrepreneurs capitalise on the growing need for tyre disposal, setting up companies with the sole purpose of exporting ELT waste to landfills in foreign countries at low costs.

Due to a complex blend of materials (often natural and synthetic rubber, fibre and wire), tyres are highly durable and not naturally biodegradable. Tyres deposited in landfill sites result in the leaching of toxins into the soil and surrounding water tables. In some countries landfill sites also serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes spreading malaria and Zika virus, a major global ramification of tyre waste that is heavily underreported.

Wastefront offers an industrial recycling of tyre waste that combines a profitable business proposition with a reduced environmental footprint. By taking advantage of the high-energy content in tyres, Wastefront is able to break down end-of-life tyres into liquid hydrocarbons and carbon black, which can be re-utilised in areas such as alternative fuel manufacturing or rubber production. In addition, these commodities can provide the chemical building blocks required for carbon product manufacturing, as well as be used in the manufacturing of new tyres (offering an opportunity for car manufacturers to improve the environmental footprint of their vehicle production).

By converting tyre waste into usable commodities, Wastefront offsets carbon emissions, where the alternative to the recycled commodities is often crude oil, or unrefined petroleum; a fossil fuel which creates a significant amount of air pollution when refined down.

About the process and technology

Wastefront uses pyrolytic reactors which utilise thermal decomposition known as ‘pyrolysis’ to break down a tyre’s materials at elevated temperatures. By sending tyres through reactors with a catalyst, a combustible gas is produced, in addition to a liquid hydrocarbon, carbon black and heat. The gas is circled back in to fuel the furnace. The liquid hydrocarbon undergoes a refining process as a means of improving the quality and performance. The carbon black is then washed and milled to upgrade the chemical properties, and can be used as a complement to natural rubber in the tyre production, mechanical rubber goods or as a filler for plastics. The heat is repurposed locally within industry or to heat residential homes.

All of Wastefront’s pyrolytic reactors comply with all local environmental regulations and the company is continually working to ensure compliance with all planned future regulation updates. The gas purification system removes pollutants, organic compounds and harmful solid particles without releasing anything into the environment. This purified gas is also used to feed the reactors in operation. It promotes self supply for the pyrolysis process without an extra heating source. The technology complies with the emissions levels and specifications established by the European standards.