The Latest from Spain

By: Jason Stravinski

Sitting in a quaint restaurant by the Aragon river in a small town south of Pamplona, I reflect back twenty-five years when my love affair with Spain began.  While studying at the University of Salamanca in the mid-90s, I visited Navarra many times to enjoy the architecture, the wine, and their famous cuisine.  Sipping on my glass of Rioja, my server pulls me out of my daydream when he returns to the table with some traditional migas.  Over lunch, I delight in the idea that I am back in Spain – this time working for Lehigh Technologies to build a facility designed to transform waste materials into high-value products.

We are putting the finishing touches on a factory in Navarra that will ensure a reliable supply of Micronized Rubber Powder (MRP) to meet growing customer demand in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  This project is a joint venture with a Spanish waste to resource company, Hera Holding, which enables a streamlined supply chain of tire granulate into the Lehigh system.  Located on Hera’s tire recycling plant in Murillo del Fruto, Lehigh has hired British Engineering and Procurement Contractor (EPC) RedHall JEX to install 10,000 metric tons of capacity using our process design and patented technology.  Upon completion, the facility will not only supply MRP to EMEA, but will also be the first state of the art Circular Economy solution in the region.

After a long week of project planning in Navarra, I return to Barcelona to stay with a dear friend in a village near the base of Montserrat.  We go to dinner at his restaurant to catch up on life, work and family.  He asks, “What is it like building a plant in Spain from the US using a British EPC while being owned by a French company?”  I laugh.  The world is not as big as it used to be!  Although the project presents itself with challenges – language, time zones, differing holidays – I find working with a diverse group of cultures refreshing.  It is beautiful to imagine people from four different countries coming together to work on a project to solve a global problem in a way that provides value to the marketplace.  As we see oil prices rising again, there will be more price pressure on oil based raw materials.  This will only add more value to the use of MRP as a substitute to these materials.  Reducing global CO2 emissions, eliminating tire waste, providing an economic solution to a global problem, and being an example to the world of how the circular economy can be applied to tires makes all of the work and challenges worthwhile. 

Finishing our cortado, we say goodbye until June when I will return with my team to finish commissioning the facility and begin the next step in our journey to solve the world’s tire problem.