Leading alternative fuel manufacturer WKE has celebrated a key milestone with the launch of its first international shipment, as the company expands its team to meet increasing demand.

The 6200 gross tonne vessel was loaded with more than 7000 tonnes of WKE fuel pellets from WKE’s processing facility at AV Dawson-owned Port of Middlesbrough before setting sail earlier this month.

The shipment is for an initial production trial, with a longer-term potential for up to 50,000 tonnes per annum.

WKE CEO Ian Jones said: “This is a huge milestone for us as it represents the completion of commissioning, from the waste arriving at our plant to the product being shipped out.

“We’re ideally located for bulk shipments and we can do anything from 3,000 tonnes to 10,000 tonnes in a single shipment.

“It’s an exciting time for WKE as we have multiple transfrontier shipments being put in place for new customer trials across a range of industries in 2024, including cement and paper mills in the UK, Europe and further afield.

“Countries who are currently not allowed to take waste from the UK are also actively seeking approval from their own governments to import our product.”

With demand ramping up, WKE has welcomed a new chief commercial officer, Michael Yannakoyorgos, and a new operations administrator, Claire Amy, to support the team.

Having worked in the waste industry for 20 years and international waste and waste derived fuel export for the past decade, Michael has plenty of experience to draw upon.

He said: “I’m excited to join WKE and dive in as we’re getting more and more commercial opportunities across a range of industries.

“I’m looking forward to exploring objectives for clients in the UK and abroad that we can bring on as long term offtakers, forming new partnerships and securing sustainable growth for the company.”

CEO Ian Jones added: “We’re delighted to have Michael on board. With his knowledge and experience, he is going to bolster our commercial team as enquiries increase and new geographies need exploring.”

WKE recently celebrated the commissioning of all three of its production lines. Jones explained: “The next step will be performance testing to ensure continuous improvement and maximum efficiency, leading up to our plant performance test at the end of Q1 in 2024.

“We are incredibly proud of the milestones we’ve achieved this year. Not only have we consistently delivered on quality and volume, but our product has also been tested and endorsed by a diverse array of sectors including cement, steel, and gasification.”

Charlie Nettle, AV Dawson’s group managing director, said: “It’s a real win for AV Dawson and indeed for Teesside to secure this exciting new project, which is supporting the journey to net zero by enabling businesses to transition from fossil fuels to a new source of green fuel.

“We had ambitions to diversify into new renewables and waste-to-energy sectors and bringing this opportunity to Port of Middlesbrough is certainly part of that.

“We constructed two purpose-built facilities on site to support WKE’s operation, providing them with a processing plant and a warehouse for storage. The project has taken a couple of years to get to this point, so it is fantastic to now be chartering ships through our ships agency Cockfield Knight and loading these ships at our site, so the pellets can be exported across the world.”