Despite their potential, extracting ingredients from sustainable sources also has its challenges.
Traber said one of the tallest hurdles may be "the reliable sourcing of plentiful, high-quality feedstocks that will result in consistent batch material production."
A poor growing season, the unavailability of livestock fat and bones, processing costs and the quality of a recycled source material all "could hamper the use of some sustainable ingredients."
Recovered carbon black from tire pyrolysis is another example.
"What we currently do is based on recycled tires, broken down via tire pyrolysis, to oils and rCB. We study what can be a drop-in replacement and the characteristics of the compound with rCB," Traber said.
But carbon black from tire pyrolysis often is not 100-percent the same as virgin carbon black.
And even though more than 58 million tires are landfilled annually in the U.S and Europe, proving the feedstock exists, tire pyrolysis also can be energy-intensive.
As CB is a critical ingredient in both non-tire and tire rubber compounding, competition between the two industries for rCB can be intense as tire manufacturers also are keen on reducing their CO2 footprint.
"There are other ingredients that are not 100-percent comparable to silicone or other compounds. How do we balance the property performance of the final compound is the question," Traber said.
Nonetheless, Traber and Hochgesang noted that Freudenberg Sealing is collaborating with several suppliers in North America and Europe as each region works to develop consistent, high-quality, high-volume sources for sustainable ingredients.
But the balance against performance must be a factor in part development as well.
In 2015, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies introduced an EPDM made, in part, from sugarcane byproducts from Brazil.
But customer interest waned quickly as the new, commercialized EPDM was more expensive than EPDM using fossil fuels as the source of its ingredients.
And though the performance requirements were met for this particular EPDM grade, the market wasn't ready, Traber said.
As research and development continues against the backdrop of pending PFAS regulations, Traber reiterated that sustainable materials are not a new frontier for Freudenberg.
"Freudenberg Sealing Technologies has a long history of material development," he said. "Afterall, the very first Simmerring was made from leather. They weren't highly effective, so other materials replaced the leather.
"Our work today is the continuation of a vision we have maintained for a very long time."