Murfitt’s Industries joins Kwik-Fit and Stapletons in the Itochu portfolio of UK tyre companies to create a cradle to grave tyre life chain.
ETEL Acquires Murfitts
European Tyre Enterprise Ltd (ETEL) has announced that it has agreed the acquisition of Murfitts Industries, the UK’s leading tyre recycling company.
ETEL, which owns the nationwide wholesale tyre distributor Stapleton’s Tyre Services and the Kwik-Fit retail chain, is acquiring 100% ownership of Murfitts Group Ltd, the parent company of Murfitts Industries. Murfitts operates a national network recycling the equivalent of around 20 million car tyres per year.
Murfitts manufactures a variety of rubber granulate products by processing and repurposing post-consumer tyres which it collects from a wide range of tyre manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers across the UK. These include ETEL, with Murfitts having been a long-term provider of post-consumer tyre collection and recycling services to ETEL.
Sean Tanaka, CEO of ETEL, says: “We have a long-standing relationship with Murfitts and even as separate companies our operations have been seamlessly connected, with joined up processes. This acquisition makes clear strategic sense as we can bring the responsible collection, processing, and re-manufacturing of tyre material under our own roof. This will ensure that customers, both retail and wholesale, can be confident that their used tyres are being processed in the most sustainable way possible.”
Whether this will create any dynamic changes in the UK waste tyre sector remains to be seen. It has long been argued that those delivering the tyres should also be collecting them, and this is what this purchase by ETEL will effectively ensure for its group of companies.
Murfitts has invested significantly in its processes, developing a sophisticated system which enables it to recover the materials used in the production of tyres and repurpose them to manufacture innovative products. These are used in areas such as sports surfaces, pathways, children’s playgrounds, carpet underlay, modified asphalt and many other industrial applications. Its products are of such high quality that they are exported to markets across the globe.
Over the last decade Murfitts has introduced processes ahead of, and exceeding, UK regulatory requirements regarding the disposal of post-consumer tyres. It has led the industry in developing audited and traceable systems to ensure tyres are being processed responsibly. Recognising the global focus on the reduction of waste and the need to support the circular economy through the re-use of materials, Murfitts has also been investing in research and development to improve material recovery and reduce the use of natural resources.
The company has been developing proprietary pyrolysis technology. This technology will help promote sustainability initiatives of the tyre industry by replacing one of major raw materials of tyres, carbon black, with a recycled product.
With its UK-wide collection and processing infrastructure in place, Murfitts has the ability to supply the consistent feedstock necessary for commercial-scale pyrolysis. Bringing the company into the ETEL group will enable Murfitts to invest in accelerating the development of this process and scale up the operations.
Mark Murfitt, founder of Murfitts Industries, will remain with the company as managing director. He said: “This is the natural next step for our company. Society is becoming increasingly focused on what happens to products once they have fulfilled their initial use, but this is something we have based our entire business on from day one. I wanted to partner with a company who fully understands the tyre industry and can really help continue to develop our operations, especially on scaling up the pyrolysis programme. We are already seeing very promising results in this area which will be a game changer in reducing waste and recovering even more valuable raw material.”
ETEL, in partnership with Murfitts, has responsibly collected over 50 million post-consumer tyres from motorists in its retail centres. Recently it has expanded the effort by responding to the strong demand of its Stapleton’s wholesale customers to collect tyres from them.
With Murfitts joining ETEL, the company is committed to further expanding its infrastructure to collect post-consumer tyres, as well as investing in the commercialisation of pyrolysis technology, to not only contribute to the reduction of waste, but also help make the entire tyre value chain more sustainable.
It is worth noting that Itochu, although not a tyre company, is one of Japan’s largest general trading companies with ownership or licencing of many household brands around the world. It is involved in everything from textiles to construction and all points in between.
In September 2020, it was reported in the tyre press that Itochu was preparing to sell Kwik-Fit. This latest development suggests that Itochu rather than divesting itself of a tyre business, is planning to invest further in the tyre sector in the UK.