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From rubber to renewables: Belgian startup RISORCE secures €12.5M to build recycling plant for end-of-life tyres

Picture credits: RISORCE

As per Recytyre, a Belgian organisation responsible for coordinating the collection of end-of-life tyres, over 5 million car tyres are collected every year in the country. A majority of these tyres are shredded and the rubber particles are separated from the textile and metal parts so that they can used in various industrial processes, including sports flooring, shock-absorbing or soundproofing materials, street furniture and road asphalt. 

Like many other sectors, the tyre recycling industry is no exception to the search for new technologies that are part of a circular economy. This is the challenge that the Belgian startup RISORCE (Renewable, InnovaCve SoluCons towards Recycling & Circular Economy) is set to tackle 

Builds end-of-life tyre recycling plant

In a recent development, RISORCE netted €12.5 million investment from (Recytyre), Noshaq (that backed LiveDrop and Eclo), Wallonie Entreprendre and various players in the financial sector. The company intends to use the funds to build a new end-of-life tyre recycling plant in the province of Liège. 

Planned to accommodate six waste tyre processing units on the site, the project will process 18,000 tons of tyre granulates per year, equivalent to 2,400,000 tyres per year. The first unit will be built as early as 2024, followed by subsequent units, so that the site will be fully operational by 2025. Ultimately, the plant should create around 20 local jobs.  

“RISORCE meets a need for local solutions in Belgium for processing tyre waste, while at the same time being firmly committed to a circular economy approach. We are offering a locally-based solution that is both technologically and environmentally robust. A real innovation”, said Bernard van den Wouwer, founder & CEO of RISORCE.

Chris Lorquet, CEO of Recytyre added: “The traditional rubber recycling industry is at a turning point. It needs to reinvent itself. The future of material circularity lies in the chemical processing of tyre components. The RISORCE pyrolysis project is a fine example of this. I am also very pleased that this initiative is based in Wallonia. The fund was created to support the development of such industries at a local level.” 

Stéphanie Sacré, Invest Manager for Noshaq commented: “RISORCE is an industrial project that meets the multiple objectives of Noshaq’s investment policy. The solution not only contributes to reduce the environmental impact of the tyre production sector, but also has a direct economic impact, as it creates jobs and contributes to the reindustrialisation of the Liège region .”

Recycles end-of-life tyres

Founded by Bernard van den Wouwer in 2022 in Belgium, RISORCE offers solutions to recycle waste tyres by transforming them into valuable products for the Belgian and international markets. 

RISORCE will deploy a pyrolysis process that will mainly produce oil, which will be sold as a raw material to European petrochemical companies. The other products of the process are carbon black and gas, which will also be used in industrial processes or for the plant’s operating needs. All the tyre granulates will be converted into products with an industrial application, making this an interesting process in terms of environmental recovery. 

The treatment of end-of-life tyres by RISORCE will make it possible to drastically reduce carbon emissions, estimated at over 70% in the study of the economic and environmental assessment of plastic waste recycling recently published by the EU. With its pyrolysis process, this plant will enable the equivalent of half of Belgium’s car tyres to be processed locally.

The RISORCE plant will use a pyrolysis process to treat end-of-life tyres. While this industrial process is not new as such, its application to the recycling of tyre granulates is in its infancy. As of now, there are no such units of this type operating on an industrial scale in Belgium or neighbouring countries.

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