BRUSSELS—While end-of-life tire casings have traditionally taken center stage at the BIR World Recycling Convention, the tires and rubber committee this year focused on recycling of other forms of scrap.
India-based GRP Ltd's joint MD Harsh Gandhi outlined his company's annual production of some 25,000 metric tons of reclaim from butyl inner tubes.
Around three-quarters of this material is sold back to the tire sector for use in inner tubes and tire linings at incorporation rates as high as 12-15 percent, the GRP boss said during the June 2 meeting.
Other applications include sound and vibration damping, said Gandhi, who estimated global butyl reclaim production at 200,000 tons per year—with South Korea, China and India as the largest producers.
Martin von Wolfersdorff, director of Wolfersdorff Consulting in Germany, reported that butyl reclaim volumes in Europe were far lower than those in Asia.
According to von Wolfersdorff, this European reluctance was despite the fact that this "very pure stream (offered) opportunities to recycle rather than downcycle."
On a different front, Malaysia-based Bridge Fields Resources (BFR) has, since 2004, been converting a wide range of rubber scrap into high-quality gum, with major feedstocks including latex gloves.
As explained by chief executive Asmipudin Mohd Ali Jinnah, this pure-stream, single-polymer-structure approach offers "maneuverability" in terms of product options.
Applications include shoes, rubber bands, castor wheels and retread tires, the BFR leaders said, noting that: "Some manufacturers are willing to pay more if they can put it on their labels as 'recycled.' "
The BIR meeting also addressed issues around the main technologies for recycling rubber, namely ambient and cryogenic micronization and reclaim/devulcanization.
According to Gandhi, many companies preferred reclaim to micronized rubber powder because of the former's more elastomeric state.
"I think reclaim is here to stay longer because it is more active while crumb rubber is more inert," he said. "In the end, it's all about application performance and how much (recyclate) you can put in without loss of properties."