Global energy giant backs UK’s greenest waste tyre recycling plant

Wastefront at Port of Sunderland

A waste tyre recycling plant being built in the North East has secured the backing of a global energy giant, more than two years ahead of its proposed opening date.

Wastefront, a Norwegian Government-backed energy start-up which recently announced plans to open its first UK plant at Port of Sunderland, has secured a lucrative 10-year deal to supply energy giant Vitol.

Once operational, the plant is expected to be the UK’s greenest waste tyre plant, recycling locally-sourced end-of-life tyres (ELTs) and converting them into useful commodities, including liquid hydrocarbons and carbon black, which can then be reutilised in processes such as alternative fuel or ground rubber manufacturing.

The deal will see the world’s largest independent oil trader purchase all available liquid hydrocarbons, including naphtha, distillates and bunker oil, from the Sunderland plant - which is expected to have an annual processing capacity of 60,000 metric tonnes of waste tyres - from which it is expected that Vitol will buy a volume of up to 30,000 metric tonnes of products per annum.

Christian A. Hvamstad, Wastefront’s director and co-founder and an alumni 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.”

Wastefront announced that it will be opening its facility at Port of Sunderland in August of this year.  The construction of the 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. 

An estimated 29 million metric tonnes of vehicle tyres reach the end of their lifespan each year, 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 to recycled commodities being crude oil.

The agreement with Vitol has been tailored to incentivise both parties to optimise sustainability elements in the value chain and to utilise existing and future national and supranational emission reduction schemes. The pair have also established a framework agreement for the 10-year offtake from future waste tyre recycling plants to be developed and built by Wastefront.

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.”

Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “It’s fantastic to see Wastefront already sealing deals that will ensure its Sunderland facility is a huge success.  We very much look forward to welcoming the company to the city – it’s a great addition to our business community as we drive Sunderland towards carbon neutrality by 2030.

“Sunderland is targeting businesses in the new green economy, as we look to become an ever-more sustainable city, so this is welcome news that will secure and underpin the new jobs Wastefront is bringing to Port of Sunderland.”

For more information on Wastefront, visit:

Christian A. Hvamstad Director of Wastefront

Get in touch with our team at Port of Sunderland

Matthew Hunt
Port Director
Captain Kevin Ullah
Harbour Master
Keith Middleton
Cargo Operations Manager
Neil Mearns
Marine Services Manager / PFSO
Karen Lindsay
Commercial Officer
Jon Holvey
Port Engineering Manager
Darren Day
Logistics Manager
Andy Foster
Business Development Manager