Syntoil a Polish start-up among the Chivas Venture 2019 winners
Founded in 2015, the company seeks to solve an age-old problem: end-of-life tires disposal.
Gianluca Dotti • Wired.it
The process developed by the company’s founders transforms unusable rubber into carbon black, which in turn can be further processed to obtain new rubber.
"Every year, one billion ELTs are left lying around," co-founder MartynaSztaba explained: "forming a chain long enough to go from the Earth to the Moon. Some people estimate the number to be as much as a billion and a half, but whatever the case, most of these tires are either burned, stacked in landfills or buried”.
Up until 2016, Sesena, in Spain, housed one of the largest illegal landfills in Europe, which was deliberately burned producing such a huge blaze that the town itself was endangered. If, on the one hand, there can be little doubt about the importance of Syntoil’s solution as far as encouraging a circular model as well as containing harmful emissions, what is the added value of such a solution compared to the rest of the market?
"About 10 other teams around the world doing something similar," says Sztaba, "but our result is 54 times more effective compared to our main competitor, which means that the carbon black we obtain contains 0.37% of unwanted ash, compared to 15%-20% of other solutions. In any case, we sincerely hope that all the teams will be successful, because the market really needs all the help it can get”.
The company currently employs 11 people, most of whom specialized in technology and business, with a few chemists and engineers. As things stand, only a small-scale industrial prototype exists, entrusted with demonstrating how the process works and producing the first finished products. "We are looking for funds to build a real industrial plant able to transform up to 2 million tires per year," continues Sztaba.
"Apart from environmental issues - 30,000 tons of carbon dioxide can be saved each year, equivalent to 6,000 fewer cars on the road - our industrial project forecasts annual earnings in the region of 3 million euro, although money cannot be considered the most critical aspect. The added value of the project lies in developing an alternative method for the production of carbon black, currently made through an insane process, i.e. burning hydrocarbon fuels.
"Chivas Ventures non-repayable financing", explained Alexandre Ricard, managing director of PernodRicard, a company that produces the famous brand of whisky from which the name of the competition derives, "aims to reward economically sustainable projects in which both ethical and social goals coexist. Environment, health and food are just a few examples of possible missions, and following the first four editions of the competition, 4 million dollars were awarded, with a concrete impact on the lives of 2 million people in 50 countries around the world”. The last edition alone, received about a thousand applications, with 10 projects accessing the semi-final and 5 making it to the final.