Sustainable Development Goals

Organizations Involved:
Klean Industries (UK) Ltd (KIU), NISP, Defra, Intowaste, UK’s largest oil refiner, UK RTFO, midsized oil distributor & many tyre manufacturers, retailers & recyclers 
Design & EngineeringDue DiligenceSupply Chain ManagementComponent Supply

The Challenge:

Every year in the United Kingdom 500,000 tonnes of end-of-life tyres require a waste management solution. No longer allowed to be dumped in landfills or incinerated along with other problematic wastes, tyres must undergo some form of recycling or recovery. However, the properties that make tyres so safe and durable during their lifetime, are what make them so difficult to dispose of in an environmentally sound and cost-effective manner.

Current disposal routes such as chipping and crumbing produce low-value, oversupplied products while the use of tyres as a cheap fuel for the cement industry is becoming more restricted due to the high emissions produced. As a result, there is an insufficient global capacity to deal with all the waste tire arisings. Tyres are now banned from landfills in the entire European Union.

The Solution:

Klean Industries, a specialist in waste tyre recycling, has been developing its position in the UK over the last few years and is proposing a unique advanced thermal conversion technology as a solution to the scrap tire problem. The tertiary technology will use pyrolysis and gasification dynamics to recover the main materials used in tyre production, namely recovered fuel oil (rFO), recovered carbon black (rCB), and recover steel wire (rSW). The high-quality end products will be comparable to virgin commodities, except they will be 25% less expensive and greener.

The technology developed in Japan in the early 1970s was the world's first thermal process specifically designed to recover oil from tyres, and has since been refined and fully commercialized many times over with facilities using the same platform technology. Klean Industries now owns the intellectual property and patents associated with this technology and plans to replicate these plants, but with a customized carbon upgrading process downstream of the thermal treatment to produce high-value recovered carbon blacks from the char. The homogenous, general-purpose carbon blacks can be used again as a binder or filler in rubber or plastic manufacturing or utilized within the asphalt industry.

The company has recently taken an option on a suitable site, secured the feedstock, and has already sold all of the commodity production in a ten-year agreement. The planned Resource Recovery Facility (RRF) will be the company's European flagship operation, capable of recycling in excess of 160 tonnes of tyres a day. A unique feature of this technology is the continuous feed reactor design which is integrated with a multi-stage refining process for both the rCB and rFO, however in this plant design the rFO will be converted into road fuel under the UK RTFO subsidy program.

In addition to the rCB, rFO, and rSW the company will generate electricity from the excess syn-gas generated by the process, due to the highly efficient design of the technology and will also generate EU-ETS carbon offsets. 

The Outcome:

The end result is the preservation of finite resources through the production of the following sustainable commodities (approximate volume):

  • Est 6 million tires a year recycled
  • 6MW of electricity generated for export
  • 20,000 TPA of CBk carbon black
  • 20,000 TPA of road diesel fuel oil
  • 5,000 TPA of naphtha gasoline
  • 10,000 TPA of steel
  • 100,000 TPA of carbon dioxide emission offset
  • Hundreds of jobs are created in a region that requires economic development
This project addresses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by considering the goals and associated targets illustrated by the WBCSD’s Tyre Industry Project (TIP). TIP offers a framework for action that outlines impactful pathways for the tyre sector to contribute to the ambitions of the SDGs. To learn more about how Klean's approach, solutions, and technologies contribute to advancing the SDGs please review the report called "Sustainability Driven: Accelerating Impact with the Tyre Sector SDG Roadmap". See: