BRUSSELS—European policy makers should introduce measures targeting minimum levels of recyclate in tire and rubber products, according to the Bureau of International Recycling.
In a statement issued with BIR's annual report, Greencore Resources founder Max Craipeau, who also serves as tire and rubber committee chairman, urged European Parliament to "step in, just as it did for plastics.
"Ten years ago, professional bottlers would have said it was not only impossible but also dangerous to incorporate recycled PET in beverage bottles," Craipeau said. "Now, with the help of the legislator, major water and soda bottlers incorporate 25 percent, 50 percent and, in some cases, 100 percent rPET in their manufacturing processes."
There is, he added, a need to "change mindsets" and "force" rubber-based industries to incorporate a minimum recycled content in their production—as long as product properties were not greatly affected.
"Europe's market for recycled rubber will never improve unless regulators make a decisive move and impose minimum recycled contents for new products," Craipeau said.
According to Craipeau, throughout the past decade, breakthroughs have been made—especially in China—with non-polluting processes that have doubled the mechanical properties of the regenerated compounds.
"We are getting closer and closer to real devulcanization and, with current technologies, it is possible to incorporate around 10 percent regenerated rubber in a new tire without really affecting its properties," he said.
The proportion, he added, can be as high as 70 percent for technical parts in a closed-loop system.
Noting that Europe had "one of the best feedstocks in the world" for making regenerated rubber, Craipeau believes that mandatory recycled contents of 5-10 percent for tires and 10-20 percent for technical rubber parts "are definitely workable."