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New award-nominated environmental process to make new tires out of old is being trialed in Red Deer

Circular Rubber Technologies is opening $16 million plant in Queen’s Industrial Park
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Maartje van der Sande, CEO of Circular Rubber Technologies of Vancouver, stands in front of the Red Deer demonstration plant in Queen’s Industrial Park. The $16-million facility is expected to be operational, recycling rubber, before the end of the year. (Contributed photo).

The first demonstration plant for a new tire-recycling process that aims to “infinitely” reuse the world’s rubber, is opening in Red Deer this year.

Circular Rubber Technologies is expected to start operating in Queen’s Industrial Park before the end of 2024. The company has developed a new process to make new tires out of old tires.

A plant manager has already been hired, and interviews are underway to fill an expected 30 double-shifted positions once the plant is fully operational, said chief innovations officer Shauna LeBlond.

Excitement is building about the $16-million facility that’s expected to lay the groundwork for a global change by reducing or eliminating the need to landfill old tires. The Vancouver-based company is already short-listed for an Alberta Emerald Award, as well as other ecological and invention awards.

“We’re thrilled” with this recognition, added LeBlond. But she admitted the soon-to-be created product will now have to live up to all the accolades; “We’ve sold it, now we’ve got to make it fly…”

Since 2018, Circular Rubber Technologies has been developing a new kind of tire recycling method with research partners at universities across Canada, as well as with a business partnership in Germany.

LeBlond explained rubber crumbs from old mining truck tires will be put through a proprietary and sustainable thermal-mechanical process. Although no additional chemicals will be added and no harmful emissions should result, a rubber sheeting material will be created that can endlessly be reused by tire manufacturers to make new tires.

Every year, about 20 million tonnes of virgin natural rubber is needed to make new tires — and the majority of these are ultimately landfilled, said LeBlond. The Red Deer plant is, therefore, expected to save 12,000 tonnes of CO2 annually, equivalent to the offset from 462,000 trees.

As Circular Rubber Technologies de-vulcanizes end-of-life industrial tires, the local plant — which received $3.2 million in funding from Emission Reductions Alberta — will manage the rubber waste sustainably and foster economic growth, said LeBlond.

The demonstration plant will be testing the process for commercialization. The facility was built in Red Deer because this city is central and on Highway 2, which is needed to transport the feedstock, said LeBlond.

The new process by Circular Rubber Technologies is in the running for recognition at the 33rd Annual Emerald Awards.

For over 30 years, the awards have been recognizing leaders across various sectors who are championing environmental and climate change action in Alberta.

Chosen by a third-party panel of volunteer judges, Circular Rubber Technologies is nominated in the business category — along with Calgary’s Sustainable Projects Group, which aims to reduce energy consumption and waste in the building trades, and tourism developer Explore Edmonton, which achieved 90 per cent waste diversion.

Winners will be announced at the 33rd Annual Emerald Awards ceremony on June 6 at the Calgary Central Library.



Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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