Black Bear’s ingenious solution to the global waste tyres problem

September 14, 2018

Black-BearEvery year, 1.5 billion tyres reach the end of their life. The vast majority get dumped or incinerated, releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide, and destroying highly valuable resources. To solve this waste tyre problem, Dutch company Black Bear has developed a unique carbonisation process to transform used tyres into recovered carbon black (rCB).

The company has now raised a capital investment of EUR11 million to refine the environmentally- friendly process and to start the global expansion of the technology. This brings the Dutch cleantech company a crucial step closer to bringing the circular economy to tyres.

Four new partners have become stakeholders: the largest Dutch banking corporation ING Group, two Netherlands-based investment firms 5square and Social Impact Ventures, as well as the conglomerate SCG Chemicals from Thailand.

“This new consortium means much more than just fresh capital,”s says CEO Martijn Lopes Cardozo, “they are strategic partners, who will play a key role in the development of our technology and who will speed up our international roll-out.” Existing investors, including the original funders Chemelot Ventures and DOEN Participaties (Ventures), have also sent in contribution.

Black Bear’s prototype plant is located in Nederweert, The Netherlands. It can process more than a million waste tyres annually, producing 5,000 tonnes of Carbon Black, 5,000 tonnes of bio-fuel, 3,000 tonnes of steel and one megawatt hours of green electricity. The plant is operated in partnership with Kargro, one of Europe’s most dominant tyre recyclers.

Carbon black is imperative in the production of tyres, technical rubber goods, inks, and coatings. It is found in the ink of pens, smartphone covers or in anything painted black. Unfortunately, carbon black is traditionally produced by burning oil. However, up to 30% of carbon black can be found in tyres, creating an opportunity for cleaner manufacturing.

Black Bear now offers the first cradle-to-cradle certified recovered carbon black to more than 30 clients worldwide. One of its customers, the coating company AkzoNobel, is one of the plant’s earliest customers and uses the raw material to make powder coatings.

Mark Weustink, ING Group’s ING Sustainable Investments said, “It is remarkable that Black Bear is capable of making old tyres into a very high-value product that can replace a polluting raw material. During the process, they also generate energy, which means the production process is highly energy-efficient.”

“With its pioneering circular model, Black Bear creates durable change, and it has already won some large clients such as AkzoNobel.”

According to Mark Gitsels of 5square, only 10% of resources are currently part of circular economies.

“That’s why we full-heartedly support the outstanding management team of Black Bear. Their disruptive technology is an opportunity for us to help make the world that bit better and at the same time yield attractive returns.”





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