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End-of-life tires (ELTs) are more than discarded rubber in landfills.

They represent a significant environmental and social issue that demands our attention. Despite commitments to recycling and environmental responsibility, the problem of tire waste is escalating. Globally, an estimated one billion ELTs are discarded yearly, and this waste flow is growing dynamically.

But what’s causing this escalating problem? This article explores the impact of ELTs on our society and environment, as well as statistics and insights surrounding tire waste.

Subscribe to the Contec Monthly on our LinkedIn Page and gain relevant insights into circularity and sustainable business models.

A growing tire market

Tires are everywhere.

As we explore the tire market’s expansion, two key drivers emerge contributing to the increasing production of new cars and the subsequent rising demand for tires. These dynamics highlight how changes in the automotive industry affect tire use and waste management. 

The rise of new cars

With car production set to hit 98.9 million per year by 2025, the challenge of tire waste becomes clearer. In 2020, the European Union (EU) had 294 million passenger cars and 41 million trucks, and by 2040, the world is expected to have 2 billion cars and 790 million trucks. This means more tires are produced for those cars, and the issue isn’t going away.

Every year, millions of new vehicles hit the road. In 2022, about 65 million cars were sold, with slight growth from the 68 million sold in 2021. India and China are key markets, with India projected to have 150 vehicles per thousand people by 2040.

The rise of new tires

The increasing demand for new vehicles has surged the production of more tires worldwide. The EU is a prime example of this increase in tire production, with 4.2 million tonnes of tires manufactured in 2020. This robust production is fueled by 93 tire production centers scattered across the region.

However, the EU faces a notable imbalance between tire imports and exports.

In 2020:

  • Passenger and light commercial vehicle tires: 115.9 million imported, 75.2 million exported
  • Truck and bus tires: 5.86 million imported, 5.3 million exported
  • Moto and scooter tires: 8.83 million imported, 3.2 million exported
  • Agricultural tires: 5.07 million imported, 0.732 million exported

Addressing the import-export imbalance in the tire market, the EU could ramp up their recycling efforts. This may boost the supply of raw materials within the EU, potentially reducing the need to import tires. Moreover, by incorporating stronger sustainable initiatives for recycling used tires, they can create a more self-sufficient and environmentally conscious tire market.

The result: more tire waste

The more cars manufactured, the greater the volume of waste tires produced. This unyielding pattern isn’t sustainable. The petroleum-derived materials used in new tire production aren’t infinite resources. It’s time to reconsider the current approach to tire production and realign it with the principles of the circular economy.

Imagine this: In the USA alone, a staggering 317 million waste tires are discarded annually—9 tires every second. And every year, there’s a new waste tire for every person in the country.

What happens to all these tires once they’re no longer on the road? A significant portion of them, around 75%, end up in landfills. ELTs make up nearly 2% of total global waste, leading to environmental and health hazards due to improper waste management. 

Fortunately, technology exists to recycle nearly all tire components, from rubber to steel. Europe leads the way in tire recycling, giving tires a new life, and demonstrating that there are viable alternatives to dumping ELTs in landfills.

“We’ve been steadily moving toward the circular economy, where we will break the linear manufacturing model with circular solutions.

We’re at a stage where self-organization at a larger scale is happening, and the industry is more mature, organised, and competent.”

Krzysztof Wróblewski, CEO at Contec

Waste tire management

The proportion of ELTs sent to landfills in the EU decreased from 50% in 1996, to only 4% in 2015.

Various ELT treatment methods have been employed to reduce landfilling, including pyrolysis, recycling, retreading, and energy recovery. Despite these efforts, the current level of ELT recovery remains inadequate.

A 2019 report found that, globally, only 42% of ELTs were utilised in material recovery and 15% in energy recovery across 45 surveyed countries: Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, the USA, and the European countries in the ETRMA scope.

In the EU, approximately 95% of ELTs were collected for recycling in 2019, amounting to 3.55 million tonnes. These tires were treated and used as follows:

  1. 55% or 1.95 Mt for material recovery, including recycling and civil engineering applications.
  2. 40% or 1.43 Mt for Energy recovery, primarily as fuel in cement kilns and power plants.
  3. 5% went through miscellaneous processes, including stockpiling.

Notably, millions of waste tires are repurposed as alternative energy sources, known as tire-derived fuel, and burned in kilns for cement, steel, pulp, and paper production.

This market is expected to expand in the future due to its cost-effectiveness and reported reductions in carbon emissions. Tire-derived fuel has the potential to mitigate the environmental impact of many industries while aiding in tire waste disposal.

The environmental impact of ELTs

Tire waste, including carbon emissions, impacts the environment through air, water, and soil pollutants. When old tires end up in the environment, local wildlife and health concerns are just a few of the many problems that can arise.

Managing end-of-life tires

The properties that make tires durable can also make them slow to degrade if ELTs are not appropriately treated. Globally, two-thirds of the billions of ELTs remain untreated and end up as illegal dumps or landfills. These dumped tires have a negative impact because they attract rodents, become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and emit chemicals as they decompose slowly.

Piling up millions of tires carries the risk of ignition, and tire fires are difficult to put out. Some piles have been left to burn for months, releasing toxic fumes that pollute air and water. 

Furthermore, in landfills, the chemical 6PPD added to tires reacts with ground ozone, producing a more toxic form, 6PPD-Q. Also, illegally dumped tires in oceans and seas trap marine animals. For example, over 200 hermit crabs get trapped in tires annually, where they remain stuck and starve.

The good news is that treatments for tire waste have produced measurable environmental benefits. Recycling ELTs and turning them into valuable commodities can prevent the emission of 613 CO2 kg eq. per metric ton.

The environmental, social, and business benefits of tire recycling through pyrolysis include the reduction of:

  • Human toxicity (HTP) and ozone layer depletion (ODP) by 90%.
  • Abiotic depletion (ADP) of fossil fuels and minerals by 84%.
  • CO2 emissions of 2.5 tonnes CO2 for each tonne of virgin carbon black produced.

Wear and tear waste effects

The wear and tear of car tires generates almost 2,000 times more particle pollution than modern car exhausts. In the UK, for instance, around 52% of all the small particle pollution from road transport came from tire and brake wear, plus a further 24% from abrasion of roads and their paint markings. Just 15% of the particle pollution came from car exhausts, and a further 10% came from the exhausts of vans and HGVs.

Tire-wear particles comprise tire fragments, synthetic rubbers, fillers, and road surface particles ranging from nano to microscale and contribute to environmental contamination. With approximately 6 million tonnes of tire wear particles released globally each year, the consequences are twofold: 

  • Tire particles make up 5-10% of ocean microplastic pollution, posing risks to aquatic life and human health as they enter the food chain.
  • 3–7% of particulate matter in the air comprises tire particles, exacerbating air quality issues and impacting public health.

Tire waste is a global problem

The waste produced from ELTs significantly impacts the environment and the health and well-being of humans and wildlife. This global waste problem must be addressed at the business level, with companies incorporating more sustainable product alternatives into their supply chain and developing products that start with sustainable solutions.

At Contec, we enable tire manufacturers to do just this — by providing recovered Carbon Black (ConBlack®), recovered Tire Pyrolysis Oil (ConPyro®), and recovered Steel (ConWire®) from ELTs as sustainable alternatives to current industrial production.

Get in touch to learn more about our solutions.

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Embracing the circular economy isn’t just a trend; it’s a necessity for the future of our planet.

As the circular economy gains momentum, it’s becoming essential for corporations, especially manufacturing ones, to take notice and evolve.

The concept of circularity is not new, but in recent years, it has received much attention worldwide, inspiring environmentalists, governments, and businesses alike. To better understand the circular economy and how to transition to this sustainable economic model, it’s essential to recognise what makes it different from the current industrial linear model.

This article reviews key definitions and provides a clear comparison between the linear and circular economic models and will discuss the key drivers to make the transition.

Subscribe to the Contec Monthly on our LinkedIn Page and gain relevant insights into circularity and sustainable business models.

What is the linear economy?

The linear economy operates under a conventional business model where products are purchased, used, and ultimately thrown away. It follows a “take-make-waste” pattern without consideration for recycling or reuse.

Resources are taken from their source and manufactured into consumable products. The residuals of this consumption later accumulate in landfills or are incinerated. 

The process in which the linear economy deals with raw materials puts pressure on scarce resources and has little concern for environmental and social impact. Businesses maximise production and consumption for profit, leaving many economic and growth opportunities untapped.

In a world with finite resources, infinite growth is unsustainable. Unchecked consumption could soon lead to reduced food production, population decline, and industry collapse.

What is the circular economy in simple terms?

The circular economy is a system where products and materials are reused, repaired, and recycled to reduce waste and lessen the impact on the environment and society.

The circular business model focuses on extending the life cycle of products while maintaining or improving their value. Resources are utilised efficiently, focusing on sharing, leasing, and repairing products rather than throwing them away after a single use. 

The core principles of circular economy are the 4R imperatives: reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover. Producing more durable products that are easier to repair and recycle opens up new business opportunities and fosters innovation.

The circular economy brings together environmental, economic, and social factors to build a more sustainable world. By rethinking our consumption patterns and embracing circular practices, progress can be made towards a future where waste is minimised and resources are preserved.

For those interested in learning more about the circular economy in simple terms, this video by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation breaks down the basics:

What are the key differences between the linear and circular economies?

The main differences between the linear and circular economies are their general approach, vision of value creation or maintenance, perspective when working on sustainability, and adopted business model.

1. Approach

The fundamental difference between these two economic models is that while the linear economy follows the “take-make-waste” step approach, the circular economy follows the 4Rs approach of “reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover”, completely removing waste from the equation.

2. Vision

The circular and the linear systems differ regarding how value is created or maintained. Traditional linear models have short-term revenue in mind and only focus on profitability, creating value through mass production and sales. 

The circular approach, on the other hand, has a long-term vision that also considers sustainability throughout a product’s life cycle. Product updates, repair, and regeneration can achieve longer life cycles.

3. Sustainability perspective 

When considering sustainability, the linear economy works towards eco-efficiency, trying to achieve the same result while reducing the environmental impact generated. This doesn’t enable circularity, and it only delays the linear flow of resources from production to waste by reprocessing materials into a product with less value (downcycling).

Alternatively, the circular economy attempts to increase the eco-effectiveness of products. The environmental damage here is eliminated and even a positive impact is possible. It abolishes the idea of waste and converts materials into something of greater value than they originally had (upcycling).

4. Business model

The current linear economic model focuses on products that are produced, used, and then thrown away as waste.

The circular model focuses on services by offering a single service that many can use instead of the same product replicated for multiple individuals. 

Linear Economy VS Circular Economy

Understanding the fundamental disparities between linear and circular economies doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s a clear overview to help delineate the key differences between these two economic models:

Aspect Linear EconomyCircular Economy
1. ApproachTake-make-wasteReduce, reuse, recycle, and recover
2. Vision Short-term profitabilityLong-term sustainability
3. Sustainability perspectiveMinimising environmental impactMaximising environmental benefits and resource value
4. Business ModelProduct-centric approach Service-oriented approach 

Transitioning from a linear to a circular economy

Given the planet’s limited resources, the environmental impacts of the traditional linear economy business model are concerning. Governments, companies, and consumers each have a crucial role when transitioning from a linear to a circular model of production and consumption.

The shift to circularity goes beyond recycling and reusing materials. It requires a meticulous evaluation of the impact products and their components have in every step of their lifecycle. It needs actions and policies in place to succeed. 

There are many ways to incorporate circular practices in business. Collaboration between businesses and stakeholders across the value chain and a consumer mindset change is essential.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) explores some key drivers that businesses may consider when transitioning to more circular business models:

1. Entering new markets

The demand for green products and services is growing and the markets for low-emissions offerings are expected to expand further. The transition from a linear economy to a circular model allows companies to enter these new markets and increase their market share.

Companies can also maximise the value of their products by keeping them in the circular loop, extending their lifecycles through reuse, refurbishment, or remanufacturing. The increasing demand for net-zero products is creating unprecedented opportunities for businesses and countries to implement a circular model.

2. Attracting and retaining talent

Purpose-driven companies have higher productivity and growth rates, along with more satisfied workforces with lower employee turnover. A strong commitment to a circular model helps companies attract and retain the best talent. This is especially true among the younger generation that has strong environmental concerns and is eager to get involved and be an active part of the solution.

3. Reducing risk and future-proofing the business

The circular economy seeks to create industrial systems that are restorative or regenerative by intention and design. Shifting from a linear economy to a circular one minimises the use of virgin materials and allows companies to incorporate alternative materials taken from existing products. This can reduce companies’ dependence on suppliers and lessen their corporate risks.

Using more sustainable materials — such as refurbished, renewable, or recycled materials — can improve the supply chain’s resilience and help businesses manage future demand for circular products and meet their customers’ needs. 

4. Triggering innovation

When shifting towards a circular economy, companies will need to reevaluate the way they think about products, technologies, processes, and business models. Innovation is a key driver in this transition away from the wasteful linear economy system.

Circularity serves as a “rethinking device”, triggering creative new solutions and boosting innovation rates so that businesses can satisfy key societal and market needs.

5. Reverse logistics

Reverse logistics manages the return of goods and services from consumers to consolidation points, aiming to close gaps in the circular economy by reusing or recycling resources. It’s about making the most of post-consumer materials. Considering reverse logistics during product design can streamline operations and prevent unforeseen costs.

6. Product design

As stated by our CEO, Krzysztof Wróblewski, in an article from Automotive World, product design is crucial in increasing circularity. He emphasised that rethinking the design of everyday items, like tires, can significantly reduce waste.

“Manufacturers can aim to streamline recycling by integrating it into tire designs to increase the use of circular, sustainable raw materials in the automotive industry.”

Krzysztof Wróblewski, CEO at Contec S.A.

Selecting materials that can be easily reused or recycled minimises the need for new resources, while standardised components simplify repair and recycling. Designing durable products advances the transition to the circular economy by reducing replacements, conserving resources, and planning for end-of-life scenarios to ensure efficient material reintegration.

Bringing circularity to the tire industry

At Contec, we believe that the circular economy is pivotal for the tire industry to transition to a more sustainable future. Our mission is to be a driving force, helping to transform the industry towards carbon neutrality.

Currently, we’re contributing to circular principles in two major areas:

  1. Circular product creation — Our circular products replace petroleum-derived products with high-quality, low-carbon solutions.
  2. Contec process — We’re continuously optimising our pyrolysis process to be more sustainable and resourceful. Our Szczecin plant runs on 100% renewable energy, generated from our pyrolysis process.

Overall, it’s our vision to close the loop in tire production by enabling a tire-to-tire model and supporting manufacturers with circular solutions in the plastics industry. Get in touch to learn more about our sustainable solutions.

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Environmental protection is becoming an important concern in manufacturing.

However, manufacturers do not have all the necessary viable technology to reach their Net Zero goals and help limit global warming to 1.5˚C. Therefore, R&D investments are being made to find circular solutions limiting carbon footprints, waste generation, and natural resource use in manufacturing.

This article will show how investing in R&D supports the circular model adoption — and how Contec is part of the story.

How to adopt the circular economy through R&D?

Knowing how to transition from a linear to a circular manufacturing business model can be challenging. Breaking down the process into small steps can make it easier to implement viable solutions. At Contec, we recommend breaking down this process into two steps.

Step 1: Determine carbon footprint and environmental impact

Manufacturers trying to reduce their environmental impact can start by establishing their current carbon emissions.

To do this, it’s important to calculate not only scope 1 and 2 emissions for each product but also scope 3 emissions

  • Scope 1 and 2 emissions come from company activities and energy sources.
  • Scope 3 emissions cover a product’s entire value chain. These include emissions from manufacturing, processing, services, transporting raw materials, product packaging, transport, and media.

In some EU countries, it is also a requirement for companies to document data collection and testing for verification and transparency.

Step 2: Introduce a framework and standard for managing environmental impact

Companies should introduce a system for environmental management, like ISO 14001, if they don’t have one already.

They can incorporate their carbon footprint data into the system, which provides the structure needed for environmental improvements. These include formulating an environmental policy, planning, implementation, checking, and management review.

Most companies easily control Scope 1 and 2 emissions by replacing conventional energy with renewable sources. However, the complexities of Scope 3 emissions, accrued from other companies’ activities, make it harder to control them. For example, most emissions in tire manufacturing come from raw materials, like rubber and virgin Carbon Black (vCB), produced from fossil fuel-based feedstocks.

What other activities can R&D support?

R&D can help reduce the Scope 3 emissions of an entire value chain by providing innovative technological and material solutions.

Circular solutions such as recycling reduce natural resource use, associated carbon emissions, and the environmental impact of producing ingredients by making secondary raw materials from waste. It reduces waste landfilling and soil and water pollution. Moreover, circularity emphasises incorporating old material into new products, keeping it in circulation.

For example, tire manufacturers can get high-quality recovered Carbon Black (rCB) from pyrolysis using Molten technology. Molten allows for uniform and regulated heating of tire wastes to produce rCB of high and consistent quality. This rCB can replace 20 per cent of medium-grade vCB. Molten technology uses less energy to produce secondary raw materials, reducing production emissions.  

rCB’s carbon footprint is only 20 per cent of vCB’s. Tire manufacturers can use rCB in a tire-to-tire business model to diminish Scope 3 emissions. Thus, an innovation like Contec’s Molten technology integrated into an old process like pyrolysis can become a game changer for the entire tire industry.

Evolving the R&D at Contec

Every technology is the result of detailed research. However, a manufacturing operation can’t be changed before its influence on the process and product quality is identified. For this, it’s necessary to have standards to establish product quality and correlate new applications with product parameters.

These standards are created by more investment in R&D.

Contec’s pyrolysis process is rooted in R&D. Molten technology was incorporated into tire pyrolysis during laboratory testing and was found to improve the efficiency and safety of tire pyrolysis for people and the environment.

Next, Contec aimed to scale up the innovation and upgrade the tire pyrolysis plant to achieve nominal capacity. Due to an absence of ready-made technological solutions, Contec built its own laboratory facilities and tested the effect of every technology process change on product quality. Complete control over the research process and cooperation with technical universities make Contec’s R&D process unique.

Since there were no existing rCB quality standards, Contec joined the ASTM Committee D36 to contribute to formulating quality standards and testing methods for rCB. The company leverages its knowledge over years of R&D to improve product quality.

The Circular Economy is not possible without R&D

R&D can enable the development of environmentally friendly technologies for the circular economy by supporting the environmental impact verification of new recycled products.

A company with its R&D laboratory can shorten the validation process through monitoring and rapid course corrections. The flexibility to customise tests for specific needs helps to create products suited for market needs and gives a company a competitive edge. Cooperation with research institutions increases access to scientific expertise and improves fund-raising possibilities. Follow our Linkedin Page to learn how the latest R&D advancements.

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Nowadays, a company’s carbon footprint is more essential than ever. That’s why we’ve prepared a few interesting facts about it.

1. Bhutan became a carbon-negative country

This is possible because there are many “carbon sinks.” More than 70% of Bhutan is covered in trees, which means they absorb more carbon dioxide than they emit. The country absorbs 7 million tons of carbon dioxide annually and only produces around 2 million tons.

Furthermore, Bhutan uses more renewable hydroelectric power generated from its rivers, rather than energy from environmentally harmful fossil fuels. Additionally, the fact that Bhutan is a non-industrialized and less crowded nation is not insignificant.

2. There are 3 scopes of emissions CO2

  • Scope 1: direct emission (resulting from a set of ongoing activities).
  • Scope 2: indirect emission – owned (resulting from the company’s consumption of heat, electricity, etc.)
  • Scope 3: indirect emission – not owned (not produced by the company itself, linked to suppliers’ activities).
  • Scope 3: Is becoming increasingly important, and many companies started to focus on it.

3. There are various methods for measuring a carbon footprint

When it comes to businesses, two of the most popular methods are UNE-ISO 14064 and GHG Protocol. However, there are many free calculators available for calculating an individual’s carbon footprint.

4. Using Recover Carbon Black helps to achieve a smaller carbon footprint in tire manufacturing

Using Recovered Carbon Black reduces CO2 emissions by over 80 per cent for each ton of Carbon Black produced. Annual global CO2 emission would be reduced by roughly 2,7 million tonnes, if Recovered Carbon Black replaced only 10% of Virgin Carbon Black production.

Learn more about Contec’s recovered Carbon Black.

5. There are many other ways to reduce a company’s carbon footprint

Some of the most popular methods include:

  • Reducing single-use plastics
  • Using a renewable electricity
  • Developing new products that follow a circular economy approach
  • Collaborating with “sustainable” suppliers.
  • Shortening supply chains

However, the first, and most crucial step is to measure your company’s footprint. It’s a good decision toward sustainability. For more information about this topic, subscribe to our LinkedIn newsletter to receive industry-related information about the circular economy in manufacturing.

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We had a fantastic three days of conference, exhibitions and discussions that were important for the entire tire industry.

Thank you to everyone who visited our booth!

We believe is the next step towards closing the loop and accelerating the transformation of the manufacturing industry toward carbon neutrality.

We look forward to continuing the conversation and working together toward a greener future.

It was a good opportunity to share our vision of a sustainable future in the tire industry. We hope that collaboration is the way to change the field and achieve sustainable goals. See you at the 2024 edition!

Meet our team during!

Being a part of a big event is such a great idea to discuss and meet up with many experts. If you would like to talk with our team, let’s meet during these events

  • Polish Circular Forum (6 June, Warsaw)
  • European Carbon Black Summit (14-15 June, Frankfurt)
  • rCB Conference (7-8 November, Barcelona)

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Molten salts are a novel heat transfer system whose potential is just beginning to be realised. 

They’re safe, stable, and efficient for high-temperature systems. Molten salts are also better for the environment and pose few health hazards.

In this article, you will learn what molten salts are, how to use them, and why Contec uses molten salts in their waste tire pyrolysis process.

What are molten salts?

Molten salts are a phase change material used to store thermal energy.

Phase change materials are solid at room temperature and atmospheric pressure and turn into fluids when heated. Molten salts store the energy applied to convert them into liquids as latent heat, which they can transfer to other materials. As phase change materials, molten salts have a higher latent heat capacity than conventional materials. Minimal temperature changes are needed to increase their heat capacity.

Molten salts are composed of nitrates, nitrites, carbonates, chlorides, and fluorides. Each compound has unique properties that make them useful for varying applications.

But the common feature of all molten salts is their thermal stability at high temperatures.

What are molten salts used for?

Many molten salts remain in the liquid state even at temperatures between 250 to 1000°C and have a low vapour pressure.

This property makes them suitable for applications where liquids at very high temperatures are necessary for heat storage or transfer.

Molten salts heated beyond their liquid temperature range degrade into gaseous components. Combining different salts can lower the melting points of the salts and increase the temperature range where they remain liquid. Different mixtures of salts are used depending on the temperatures required for specific applications.

The most common molten salt mixture used as a heat transfer medium is composed of 60 per cent sodium nitrate and 40 per cent potassium nitrate and melts when heated at 220°C. It remains liquid in the temperature range of 220-600°C and decomposes into nitrogen and nitrogen oxides at temperatures over 600°C.

The most widespread use of molten salts is to store thermal energy in solar power plants. During the day, the excess solar heat not used for making electricity is sent to molten salts for storage. Solar plants use the heat stored in molten salts to produce steam and generate electricity overnight. Molten salt systems can increase the capacity of solar plants by up to 70 per cent.

Molten salts are also used as heat transfer systems for processing waste tires and in pyrolysis for material recovery. They’re also commonly used for heating and quenching steel.

Molten salts technology at Contec

Contec is the sole company employing molten salts as heat transfer agents in pyrolysis. To gain further insight into our unique technology, here are five critical facts to fully understand Contec’s Molten® technology.

1.  Molten® technology is an innovation on a global scale.

Pyrolysis is a well-known technology, but Contec’s Molten® technology offers a novel approach to solving the waste tire problem through pyrolysis. Read about Contec’s pyrolysis process.

2. Molten salts are used as a heat transfer system.

There are five kinds of heat systems for pyrolysis:

  1. Electricity
  2. Flue gases
  3. Microwaves
  4. Molten Metal
  5. Molten Salt

Each technology has unique features and is best suited for specific situations. Molten salt is an effective solution for pyrolysis because it’s sustainable, doesn’t harm the environment, has no risk of fire or pressure build-up, and has a high heat efficiency.

3. Molten salt usage significantly improves the heat transfer parameters.

Molten salt offers better heat control, which helps to maintain optimal process parameters. This makes achieving consistent quality products and higher safety standards easier than conventional solutions. Additionally, the system experiences less thermal stress.

4. There are three methods of using molten salts.

There are three types of molten salt systems: salt baths, direct heating, and circulating molten salts. In salt baths, molten salts are in an open vessel, and heat transfer occurs through natural convection. Direct heating uses metal assemblies with molten salts to heat materials directly. In circulating systems, the molten salts are kept in circulation as a heat medium for process heating or heat exchange.

5. Molten salts are better for the environment.

The process has a lower environmental impact. According to a NEUMAN & ESSER Climate Solutions report, the recovered Carbon Black produced by Contec is a sustainable option for certain grades of virgin Carbon Black and has a 20 per cent smaller carbon footprint.

Industrial applications of molten salts outside energy storage for solar power are gaining traction,  as is the application of pyrolysis on end-of-life tires to extract recovered Carbon Black, steel, oil, and gas.

Contec is the only recovered Carbon Black producer that has integrated molten salts as a heat transfer medium in pyrolysis.

Contec uses molten salts to achieve even heating of waste tire materials and recover consistent quality products. The efficient heat uptake and release by molten salts reduce Contec’s energy consumption. 

Molten salts are also more economical than other alternatives and can be recycled and used for heat transfer for many years. Get in touch to learn more about our sustainable solutions.

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Contec S.A., a startup recovering industrial raw materials from used tires, has raised EUR 10 million in their latest funding round. These funds will be used to expand the efficiency of Contec’s plant (Szczecin, Poland) almost threefold. Two investors are providing the funds: HiTech ASI, the corporate venture capital fund of Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego, and the Warsaw Equity Group, which is the majority shareholder.

Contec S.A. invests in increasing processing capacity

The lead investor of the round is HiTech ASI, managed by VINCI – a subsidiary of Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego. The second investor is Contec’s major shareholder, the Warsaw Equity Group. The funds obtained (EUR 8 million – HiTech ASI and EUR 2 million – Warsaw Equity Group) will be used to increase the processing capacity of Contec’s Szczecin plant. Once completed, the plant will be able to nominally process 33,000 tons of used tires per year – three times more than today. In addition, the modernization will increase the production capacity of post-pyrolysis oil and recovered carbon black.

The expansion of the Szczecin plant is due in the first half of 2024. In addition, Contec is currently searching for optimal locations for the construction of further plants in Europe.

Contec S.A. significantly reduces the carbon footprint thanks to proprietary technology

Contec recovers industrial materials from used tires using their unique protected technology, Molten, a proprietary pyrolysis. Molten, a mixture of liquid salts to heat up the reactor in which the pyrolysis process takes place, is a unique solution capable of expansion on a global scale. 

The development of this solution lasted five years, and the company engaged in research work with Warsaw University of Technology, among others. Contec is the first manufacturer in the world to use molten salts in pyrolysis. This is because the technology allows the process continuity under optimal conditions, making pyrolysis a safer, more efficient, and an economical process.

Contec recycles used tires to source recovered carbon black (RCB), post-pyrolysis oil, and steel. Contec products reduce the carbon footprint more than five times, when comparing them to the conventional fossil fuel-based raw materials 

Contec is an active participant in the circular economy. Every year, over a billion used tires in the world are recycled in the European Union. That alone is over 3 million tons of waste. 

Unfortunately, nearly two-thirds of used tires are – often illegally – burned or buried. Contec‘s unique technology, however, giving used tires a new life in a resourceful, effective, and safe way, turning them into raw materials that can be used in the production of new tires and other rubber products.

The acquisition of financing is an important step in the company’s development. The interest in our products significantly exceeds the current production capacity, and the acquired capital will allow us to expand production and respond more efficiently to the reported demand. 

“For many years, we have been supporting the manufacturing sector’s climate actions towards closing the loop and circularity. The implementation of sustainable solutions that reduce a company’s environmental impact is an important pillar in the status of a modern and competitive company, following implementation of the goals described in ESG strategies worldwide. We, as Contec, are a partner enabling the decarbonisation of supply chains and the use of sustainable raw materials, especially in the plastics and rubber industry.”

Krzysztof Wróblewski, CEO of Contec S.A

“The mission of HiTech ASI is to support Poland’s sustainable socio-economic development by building the value of project companies at various levels of their development and strengthening the innovativeness of the Polish economy, increasing its competitiveness on the international arena. Involvement in Contec S.A. is the implementation of the HiTech’s mission. It will have a positive impact on the development of the circular economy and increase the specialist competence of the Polish company.”

– Piotr Woliński, CEO of VINCI

The new investor confirms that 2023 is a breakthrough year for Contec. Already in January this year, thanks to the support of the Warsaw Equity Group, the company has completed the installation of the back end in its technological process. As a result, sales of the recovered carbon black to customers began.

Contec is a venture building project of the Warsaw Equity Group, which has been implemented since 2015. After a period of intensive R&D, which resulted in stable and scalable technology, the company enters the intensive commercialization phase. Therefore, Contec’ needs funds and partners to increase its production capacity and, consequently, be able to respond to the demand reported by companies from the chemical and rubber sectors. I am glad that Contec has acquired such a partner as BGK. Thanks to this cooperation, our portfolio company will be able to strengthen its position on the European market.” 

– Przemek Danowski, Managing Partner at Warsaw Equity Group

About Contec S.A.

Contec S.A. specializes in the processing of car tires. From them, it produces full-value raw materials reused in industry. It is the only company in the world that uses molten salt as a heat carrier. Molten’s proprietary technology creates the conditions for a safer, more efficient, and more economical method of production, designed with repeatable quality in mind. Since 2017, the company has been refining and optimizing this technology to produce an alternative to soot and petrochemical raw materials.

ABOUT VINCI S.A. 

VINCI S.A. is a subsidiary of Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego. The subject of its activity is the management of alternative investment companies, providing appropriate solutions in the field of financing Polish entrepreneurs. Currently, VINCI manages two venture capital funds: HiTech ASI, which provides capital to technology companies at various stages of development, and IQ ASI, which invests at early stages of development in research and science projects. 

About Warsaw Equity Group 

Warsaw Equity Group is a leading private investment company that invests and supports projects in innovative solutions aimed at automating processes and improving the efficiency of enterprises, as well as in sustainable development. It has been operating on the market for over 20 years.

In our ongoing series “Five Points”, we’d like to explore the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. In this article, we discuss the SDGs, how they relate to tire waste, and their relationship with Contec. Let’s get started!

1. The SDGs come from MDGs (Millennium Development Goals)

The SDGs have their roots in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were adopted by the UN in 2000 and expired in 2015. The MDGs were widely praised for their role in raising awareness about global development challenges and for inspiring climate action at the local, national, and international levels.

Despite some progress in achieving the MDGs, there was widespread recognition that more needed to be done to address global poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation. This led to the development and adoption of the SDGs in 2015, which built upon the successes of the MDGs and aims to continue the momentum toward a more sustainable future for all.

2. The SDGs aren’t only dedicated to developed countries.

The SDGs apply to all countries, regardless of their level of development. This means that both developed and developing countries are responsible for working towards achieving the goals.

While some of the SDGs are more relevant to developing countries, such as ending poverty and hunger, providing clean water and sanitation, and promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, others are relevant to developed countries as well.

For example, developed countries also need to work towards achieving gender equality, reducing their carbon footprints, promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns, and providing quality education.

3. Tire manufacturing can contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

There are several ways in which tire manufacturing can help to achieve SDG objectives. Companies can play a crucial role in promoting sustainable development by reducing their environmental footprints, supporting local communities, and promoting responsible consumption and production practices.

By taking action to achieve the SDGs, tire manufacturers can not only contribute to a more sustainable future but also enhance their reputation and competitiveness in the global marketplace.

4. Waste tires can be linked to several SDGs

There are 5 SDGs that the tire industry should be aware of.

SDG 12: Waste tires are a major environmental problem and can contribute to land pollution and greenhouse gas emissions if not managed properly. By promoting the recycling and reuse of waste tires, and reducing their environmental footprint, we can move towards more responsible consumption and production practices.

SDG 3: Waste tires can provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other pests, which can carry diseases and harm human health. By promoting the proper management of waste tires, we can help to improve public health and well-being.

SDG 6: Waste tires can interfere with the flow of water, leading to flooding and water pollution. By properly disposing of waste tires and promoting sustainable waste management practices, we can help to protect water resources and improve water and sanitation services.

SDG 9: The recycling and reuse of waste tires can provide opportunities for innovation and job creation, helping to build more resilient and sustainable industries and infrastructure.

SDG 13: By reducing the emissions associated with the production and disposal of waste tires, and promoting the use of sustainable transportation systems, we can help to address the challenges posed by climate change and build a more sustainable future.

5. At Contec, we enable manufacturing companies to achieve seven of the SDG objectives:

  • SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
  • SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
  • SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy
  • SDG 9 – Industry, innovation, and infrastructure
  • SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
  • SDG 13 – Climate action
  • SDG 15 – Life on land

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