Why recycling and pyrolysis is a perfect match


At IRR Waste 2 Energy we are passionate about recycling and are proud to be the owner and manufacturer of the UK’s only continuous pyrolysis plant and a new test kiln and research facility.

Here we explain why we think recycling and pyrolysis technology are the perfect match for the future of recycling.

Currently, our pyrolysis plant at Worksop is designed to process ELTs and with almost 50m waste tyres generated by the UK each year it’s a technology that can deal with the problem for tyre recyclers in the UK and beyond. We’re working closely with the UK and European tyre industry to support this new way of tackling waste tyres but what if other industries could be reaping similar benefits through pyrolysis?

Most interestingly, and perhaps a not very well know fact, is that pyrolysis can be ideally suited to many more hard-to-recycle waste streams.

The process of pyrolysis – a low temperature thermal process which takes place without oxygen – makes it quite different to a combustion process and is therefore much more circular and sustainable. It can be applied to any organic (carbon-based) material and the process always produces a solid, a liquid, and a gas from the process which can be then used in further processes making it truly cyclical.

The technology that is available and that we have installed at our headquarters, is easily transferrable to other materials and success has been achieved across the globe with materials such as bio-waste and MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) with all being successfully processed through a pyrolysis treatment and gases, oils and carbon char being a derivative of the process. These other materials have then been used to generate heat, power or cooling, or have been used in other manufacturing processes.

What we perhaps need to think about now as a nation, is how do we change our perceptions as to what and how we recycle? Currently the UK has a recycling run rate of around 45% which, of course, means that 55% still either goes to landfill or export. Is that really a statistic that we as a nation are happy to continue with?

We know that many industries are seeking new ways of using material that is more easily recycled but inevitably there will still be some materials in the next decades that are just not recyclable. But, if waste tyres, one of the hardest to recycle items on the planet, can successfully achieve such positive outcomes it does make us question why other industries, local authorities and recycling businesses are not jumping on the proverbial pyrolysis bandwagon.

We think recycling and pyrolysis is a perfect match for many materials and would be happy to support companies explore the opportunities that may be available to them through our test kiln and research facility.