Recycling firm backed by Vitol pushes ahead with £100m tyre plant

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Onden-based Westfront has signed an agreement with French engineer Techip Energies to design and build a £100 million tire recycling plant in the north-east.

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The facility in Sunderland will create 160 jobs when it opens in 2024 and aims to become a blueprint for similar plants around the world to tackle a significant, but relatively unrestricted source of pollution.

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Westfront, which is backed by Dutch oil trader Vitol, says it will be able to process about 10 million tires a year.

Recycled materials will be turned into high-value items used in biofuels, recycled steel and rubber manufacturing.

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Westfront has received funding from the Eurostars Eureka program and Innovation Norway. It intends to raise further capital from UK and international investors to fund the construction.

Port of Sunderland Plant

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Port of Sunderland Plant

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Viennese Wallace, a former Shell Executive CEO, said: “Technip Energies’ support of our vision and support for our project is another step in our ambition to create a globally green industrial platform.”

Westfront was founded in Oslo in 2019 and is now headquartered with offices in Mayfair.

It was launched to tackle the environmental damage caused by the dumping of 29 million metric tonnes of old tires across the world.

Their construction from a complex mix of materials, including natural and synthetic rubber, fiber and wire, has traditionally made them difficult to recycle which means they often end up in landfills.

The European Union has banned the disposal of whole tyres, but many countries now export to other countries with less restrictions.

While the world is moving towards electric vehicles, the tires on which these eco-friendly vehicles roll have yet to improve. Owners forums suggest that Tesla tires wear out between 20,000 and 40,000 miles.

Maria Moras Hansen, chair of the board at Westfront, said: “For many years, end-of-life tires have represented a problem for which no long-term solution is available that combines innovation with economic viability.”

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