Significant growth at Sapphire Energy Recovery

Whichever way you look at it 2005 was a significant year for Sapphire Energy Recovery. Not only the did the company successfully dispose of more than 100,000 tonnes of tyres, but it markedly increased industry awareness thanks to a high-profile (putting it mildly) advertising campaign. But neither achievement has gone unnoticed as the 2006 TAFF award nominations (see page 38) recognise the company on both counts. Furthermore Sapphire expects to process its 50 millionth tyre in the coming months, something that is particularly impressive when you consider that the company was only founded in 2000.

As far as Sapphire’s management is concerned these achievements are only the beginning. The management is hoping for still more success in 2006 and the company’s new Manchester end-of-life tyre collection site is at the centre of its strategy. Situated between the M56 and the M6 and eight minutes away from junction eight of the M60, the new 2.5 acre plot will process 50,000 tonnes of tyre arising each year. The site began initial operations in March, and its official opening will take place in April/May. Its no accident that the company chose 2006 to get its new “arterial” site up and running. This year Sapphire expects 20,000 tonnes of additional tyres following on from July’s landfill ban. After this the company is already gearing up to take even more additional volume in the years immediately after the ban.

Tyres & Accessories has learnt that the company is about to appoint a new regional collector for the North West. Ryan Mifflin didn’t want to confirm any details as at the time of T&A’s visit the agreement hadn’t received final approval. However, he did say that the company would bring all its tyres to Sapphire’s Manchester site. But this does not mean that it will be the only customer there at the site’s opening, far from it. Sapphire believes its new processing site is conveniently positioned for the majority of customers from smaller independent collectors to the larger companies. “The Manchester site all about getting amongst the tyres, about getting near to the arisings,” Ryan Mifflin told T&A explaining that, due to the site’s proximity to Greater Manchester and other nearby cities, there are literally hundreds of tyre shops in the immediate vicinity.

The Manchester facility is built on a redeveloped brownfield site. In a former life this plot of land was an oil storage facility. Now Sapphire has concreted over significant parts of the land, providing a clean, modern end-of-life tyre processing facility. While it is technically a brownfield site, in another sense it could also be called “green” because the building work has used the very same products that the tyres the company collects end up supplying. The irony of the situation is not lost on sales and marketing manager Ryan Mifflin. “The tyres are really going full circle here,” he commented, adding: “A proportion of the cement we used to build with will have come from the incinerated tyres. [This cement is] not always the cheapest option but certainly the best.”

All mod cons…

As you would expect with a £1 million project, much thought has gone into how best to use the site. In doing so the company has built on the success of its existing operations, upgrading the performance of certain aspects. As a result there is a real emphasis on providing additional services to customers.

Manchester is larger than any of the company’s other sites. More space also means a better truck tyre service, a tyre on rim service and a large unchipped storage area. There will be storage space for 300 tonnes of whole tyres and 2500 – 3000 tonnes of chipped tyre material. According to the company, the new site is designed to give the quickest turnaround for offloading tyres in the market.

The addition of a mounted tyre disposal facility is another Sapphire first. According to Ryan Mifflin, local market research showed that disposal of these items this could pose a problem for local authorities. However while this service may prove useful for customers, there are no real financial benefits for the company. In addition, the company’s licence also includes permission to de-bead truck tyres, although that has not yet begun.

As far as processing is concerned, T&A witnessed the installation of Sapphire’s Columbus McKinnon machinery. This has been transferred from another Sapphire site for installation and refurbishment in Manchester. The chipper will run 20 hours a day and has a maximum capacity of 80,000 tonnes of tyres annually although the company is only aiming to chip 50,000 tonnes annually at the moment.

The Manchester site also includes a mess room, with shower, kitchen and tea and coffee facilities all of which will be available for drivers to use. It also features a brand new weigh-bridge, £100,000 of mobile plant machinery and advanced 24/7 security systems.

Tyres aside, next time you visit Sapphire’s Manchester facility you might want to play a quick game of spot the celebrity as Manchester United, Manchester City and Sale Harriers all have training pitches nearby.

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