BERWYN, Pa.—Sustainability as an industry is a growing demand for tire producers.
And a more sustainable tire industry starts with better building materials and collaboration, said Sandra Hofman, director of technology and innovation, synthetic rubber, for Trinseo.
"I think at the moment we're seeing this big wave hitting us. We see that the auto industry is changing," Hofman said. "I think the chemical industry has this big challenge as well."
For Hofman, hearing what customers are demanding, the concept of sustainability that uses all four Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle and renew) is becoming more important.
"As a company, we have to find solutions. For me actually, it's like if you're taking the Magic Triangle: Yes, we can work on the performance, and this has obviously been our focus, but now also we can take sustainability into account," she said. "This is not only how the tires are performing but also what they are made out of. For us, the raw material base becomes extremely important."
As a synthetic rubber manufacturer, Trinseo is looking for bio-based materials to bring more renewable content into its polymers, she said. A key raw material for Trinseo is styrene monomer, a large portion of which is used in packaging applications. The firm is part of a joint industry initiative called Styrenic Circular Solutions, which aims to drive the recycling of polystyrene back into new styrene monomer in the future of the industry. Since polystyrene can be depolymerized in high heat back into styrene monomer, it is "infinitely recyclable." That new styrene monomer would then be recycled material.