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Over 90% drop in the carbon footprint of rubber

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Life Cycle Analysis of Actifine®

 

Actifine® is largely a circular source of natural rubber and carbon black for tyre and technical rubber compounds. It also replaces a host of other fossil-based rubber compounding ingredients used in tyre manufacturing. Actifine® production combines various micronization steps and a patented chemical activation process to convert the fine rubber powder into a surface-reactive, high-performance additive.

In the current situation, tyre waste is largely incinerated, irrespective of whether it is, for example, temporarily repurposed into artificial sports fields or children's playgrounds. When reusing the rubber as a raw material to produce new tyres (the Actifine® case), the rubber is no longer incinerated, resulting in a circular process that can be repeated over and over.

For the life cycle analysis (LCA) calculations, the following scenarios were compared:

- Conventional scenario: tyres are produced from raw materials, specifically natural rubber. Tyres will be incinerated at the end of their lifespan.

- Actifine® scenario: tyre rubber will become circular, by using rubber granulate from tyres, combined with specific activation chemicals as new raw material in the tyre manufacturing process.

 

The CO₂ emission factors of energy sources are based on the Dutch reference data. There is also a significant difference that must be taken into account between CO₂ emissions from rubber plantations older than 60 years and new plantations which usually require burning or cutting down tropical forests. 

The results of the analysis are presented below.

CO2 emission reduction per tonne of product.
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Deforestation by Rubber Plantations

 

The clearing of rainforests to make place for new rubber plantations is a recent trend with devastating effects on the environment. Substituting Actifine will reduce the need for increasing future natural rubber capacity, by reusing it. The carbon footprint of rubber products currently produced with natural rubber from new rubber plantations would significantly decrease.

Should Waste be Fuel?

A high proportion of tyre waste is incinerated in kilns to help fuel the cement production process. In the absence of high-volume 'circular options', this has been the preferred (even mandatory) destination for tyres for decades. Clearly, a shift towards upcycling and reusing end-of-life tyres in line with circular economy principles is our only way forward.

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