Murfitts plans tyre recovery and recycling plant in UK

Tyre recycling and reprocessing company Murfitts Industries has announced an agreement with a French firm to use Norwegian technology for the development of a pyrolysis and material recovery plant in the UK.

Murfitts Industries is planning a tyre pyrolysis and recycling plant in the UK using Norwegian technology

A planning application for the plant is expected within the next six months although the location has not been revealed, the company said this week.

Murfitts has its headquarters in Lakenheath, Suffolk and is part of the European Tyre Enterprise Ltd group (ETEL) which includes the Kwik Fit tyre retailer and Stapleton tyre wholesaler businesses. It is ultimately owned by Japan’s Itochu Corporation.

At present Murfitts handles around 20 million used tyres a year with some going for energy recovery and others for recycling. A large volume is despatched for tyre derived fuel (TDF) while on the recycling side the tyres are used for production of rubber granules for use in carpet underlay, rubberised asphalt and other processes.

Having the Kwik Fit chain as a sister company helps Murfitts with securing sufficient volume for a new plant

Because it handles so many used tyres, Murfitts considers that it has ready access to the quantities of feedstock required to deliver “the tyre sector’s first fully fledged materials recovery solution on a commercial scale”.

Vow ASA of Norway

Now, the company is to partner with French engineering group ETIA which is part of the Vow ASA technology firm listed in Norway. Murfitts has been working with ETIA on the project for a number of years.

The new Vow technology plant would recover carbon black (rCB) from tyres for recycling as well as producing syngas and ‘pyrolytic oil’.

Murfitts explained that it has carried out extensive trials with ETIA’s technology and it has been proven that the process “consistently produces a recovered carbon black (rCB) which exceeds the properties of the virgin materials it replaces.”

The company added that it has tested various formulations to meet a range of exact specifications, with a particular focus on feeding the rCB back into the manufacturing of new tyres. And, it noted that the key advantage of using rCB is the significant reduction in CO2 emissions caused by the production of virgin carbon black.

‘Commercially viable’

Mark Murfitt said the agreement was a milestone in terms of tyre recycling and recovery

Mark Murfitt, managing director of Murfitts Industries, said: “This is a major milestone in delivering a commercially viable materials recovery solutions in the tyre sector. Together we can bring together all the elements required, from reliable feedstock, through proven delivery of precise rCB specifications, to strong relationships with manufacturers.

“We can deliver a clean sustainable process which generates its own energy to recover valuable raw materials and make significant carbon savings compared to virgin sources.  With the backing of ETEL and Vow, we believe the new company could be rapidly scaled internationally and make a significant difference in reprocessing end of life tyres around the world.”

‘Unique partnership’

Henrik Badin, chief executive of Norwegian firm Vow, said: “Together with Murfitts, ETEL and Itochu, we are forming a unique British-French-Japanese-Norwegian partnership. We see a huge opportunity for Vow technology and our combined competence and capacity in a rapidly emerging market. We have agreed to come together to offer a truly sustainable method for handling post-consumer tyres and at the same time taking important steps towards decarbonising the tyre industry.”

Murfitts also explained that ITOCHU Corporation aims to make a major contribution to the realisation of a circular society “through the commercialisation of recycling end of life tyres to deliver rCB in partnership with the VOW Group”.

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