Despite the years of recession, the slow economic recovery, the fact most companies in the business aren't really that serious about it, the green revolution is moving forward in the rubber industry.
Yes, it's true: Rubber companies are driven by the profit motive, rather than altruism. That's how you stay in business so you can even have the chance to do something good for, say, the environment.
The environmental consciousness of a rubber processor or supplier always will be tempered by a green project or product's ability to make money, save money or at least not lose money.
The neat thing is, companies increasingly are finding ways to do just that.
Stories in the “Rubber Goes Green” section of this issue show that. Take Yokohama's Advan tires, for example.
The Japanese tire maker actually is using oil derived from orange peels to reduce the petroleum-based materials in this tire line. The latest story about this development is how Yokohama's “orange” technology has stepped up another degree in a racing tire application.
It's not likely any rubber company is greener than Yokohama—which has installed “green” into its corporate culture, from eco-friendly tires to zero waste emissions at its global plants.
Not to be outdone, Goodyear and Genencor are moving ahead in a project to develop a biomaterial that uses organisms to produce isoprene, aimed at replacing the oil-derived chemical. A start-up company, Arzeda, is seeking a similar goal too, working on research to find enzymes and a metabolic pathway to convert sugars into butadiene.
Renewable resources to replace petroleum-based feedstocks, which are getting more scarce and costly, is a fantastic green opportunity.
These are just a few of the ongoing green initiatives that have shown promise. Promise that can turn into profits, the real ingredient to making the rubber industry green.