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Business & Economy

Norwegian energy start up secures Vitol backing ahead of Sunderland plant

A waste tyre recycling plant currently under construction in the North East has secured the backing of a global energy giant.

Wastefront is a Norwegian state-backed energy start up that recycles locally-sourced end-of-life tyres (ELTs) and converts them into useful commodities such as liquid hydrocarbons and carbon black.

The company has secured a lucrative 10-year deal to supply energy giant Vitol more than two years ahead of its proposed opening date at the Port of Sunderland.

The new site will be the first of its kind in the UK, creating commodities that can be reutilised as alternative fuel or for ground rubber manufacturing.

Vitol is the world’s largest independent oil trader and will purchase all available liquid hydrocarbons, including naptha, distillates and bunker oil from the Sunderland plant.

The plant is expected to have an annual processing capacity of 60,000 metric tonnes of waste tyres.

Christian A Hvamstad, Wastefront’s director and co-founder and an alumnus of Sunderland University, said: “Our ambition is to create a new circular economy for dealing with waste issues, and partnering with Vitol in this offtake agreement is a key step in our journey.

“Together, we can contribute to a cleaner future by dealing with a specific waste problem, where end-of-life tyres no longer end up in landfill, but instead are converted into viable commodities that can be used again.

“Both the Vitol and Wastefront teams have been cooperating closely in the development and configuration of the first plant in Sunderland to ensure it adheres to the current market climate and environmental standards, as well as position the plant to comply with foreseeable changes in regulation and to ensure that the plant will have the flexibility to adapt to future shifts in the commodities market.”

The construction of the Wastefront plant – subject to planning – is expected to begin in 2021 and will generate around 100 jobs in the region.

Once fully up and running, in 2023, the company will employ as many as 30 full-time members of staff.

Chris Bake, head of origination at Vitol, added: “Wastefront’s business model sits at the intersection of waste reduction and decarbonisation, both key to addressing current environmental challenges.

“With the appropriate expertise, we believe these new fuels can be successfully integrated into the energy system.

“We are pleased to be partnering with Wastefront as they implement their proprietary technology to produce sustainable energy products, with a reduced environmental impact.”