Plans to construct a world-leading recycling plant that will put the North East at the forefront of sustainable tyre recycling have been greenlit.
Wastefront AS, a Norwegian green energy company backed by energy giant Vitol, was yesterday [31st January 2022] given permission to press ahead with plans to construct the ‘UK’s greenest tyre recycling plant’ at Port of Sunderland, representing the largest ever investment at the North Sea hub.
Construction on the development is expected to begin this year (2022), with company executives confident that the plant will be in commercial operation by 2024, creating around 100 skilled jobs once in full operation.
The plant will use commercially operating technologies to convert end-of-life tyres (ELTs) into useful commodities, including biofuels and carbon black, which can then be reutilised in processes such as alternative fuel or raw materials for the production of new tyres or other products.
An estimated 29 million metric tonnes of vehicle tyres reach the end of their lifespan each year worldwide, representing an underreported but major cause of pollution due to their non-biodegradability. By converting tyre waste into usable commodities, Wastefront offsets carbon emissions, with the alternative end-destination being incineration. Due to the end-products being biofuels and raw materials to be used in new products, the plant will also have a strong alignment to the green taxonomy.
The firm’s decision to invest in Port of Sunderland was influenced by co-founder and director, Christian A. Hvamstad, an alumnus of the University of Sunderland.
Speaking about the news he said: “We are thrilled to have secured planning approval for this landmark site, which marks a huge step in our efforts to combat the global issue of ELT waste.
“Our ambition is to create a Green Global Industrial Platform for dealing with waste issues, and a crucial element of sustainable waste handling is to be able to do so locally. Wastefront’s first UK plant will represent a valuable contribution to a cleaner future by dealing with a specific waste problem, where end-of-life tyres no longer end up in landfills in overseas countries, but instead are converted into useful commodities that can be used within the region.
“The UK is a global centre of industry which we’re proud to be part of, while Sunderland is the ideal location for our first plant due to geographical location, access to feedstock, strong local support and Sunderland’s history as an industrial city.”
Since unveiling plans for the recycling plant in August 2020, Wastefront has secured a decisive 10-year supply deal with energy giant Vitol, which will see the world’s largest independent oil trader purchase all of the Sunderland plant’s available liquid hydrocarbons.
The approval of the planning application for the Sunderland plant is the result of the successful project development approach taken by Wastefront and its partners, focusing on the constant de-risking of the Project.
In preparation for the next phase of the Project, the Execution phase, Wastefront has also appointed Technip Energies, one of the largest and most respected engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies in the world, as their partner for the build of the Sunderland plant.
Vianney Vales, CEO at Wastefront, added: “We continue to progress as per our plan with the implementation of our game-changing facility in Sunderland.
This facility is an example of what the industry of the future can be, re-utilizing a material that is currently wasted, used tyres, and converting it fully into valuable products through an exceptionally circular and environmentally-friendly process.
We worked closely with our partners Devaltec and TechnipEnergies in the development and configuration of this plant to ensure it adheres to the current and future climate and environmental standards. As a result, this plant is designed to operate with no harm to the environment and the community.
The approval of our planning application shows the Planning Authority and the Environmental Agency support our approach, and speaks volumes about the quality and maturity of our project development.
Obtaining a planning approval is a pivotal moment in time in any industrial project. Following the selection of TechnipEnergies as our EPC partner which we announced earlier this year, this is yet another confirmation of Wastefront’s ability to execute its plans.
Our mission is to solve complex environmental problems while generating economic growth, and we are making it happen.”
A recent report by the Social Market Foundation recently named Sunderland the second best place in the UK for businesses looking to capitalise on the shift to decarbonisation, with the city scoring highly in its access to talent, green business clusters and the number of skilled workers with the transferable skills to help drive the UK’s green economy.
Christian added: “As a graduate of the University of Sunderland and a former resident of the city, I have seen with my own eyes the vast potential it has to capitalise on the economic opportunities that the Net Zero agenda will generate.
“From the region’s world-class universities to its skilled workforce, I’m sure it comes as no real surprise to those familiar with the area that it is currently attracting investment from industry heavyweights such as Nissan and Envision and we’re very much looking forward to joining them as we help the UK step up the pace in the race to decarbonisation.”
Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “This is absolutely fantastic news not only for Sunderland, but the entire UK, and we can’t wait to see work start apace on the development of the site.
“Not only is this a fantastic story for the circular economy in terms of waste pollution, but it is also a fantastic circular economy success story for the city, demonstrating how the success of the University and recent developments such as the expansion of Port of Sunderland and the International Advanced Manufacturing Park are helping establish an ecosystem that nurtures and retains the best talent, driving innovation and attracting investors from across the globe to the city, and Wastefront is a perfect example of this.”
For more information on Wastefront AS, visit: http://www.wastefront.com