One remedy to the lagging carbon black supply in Europe is to increase imports from India and Saudi Arabia, Wolfersdorff said.
In Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia, is Kemya, a joint venture for carbon black production between Exxon, Sabic and Continental Carbon Corp.
"They have carbon black that can be imported to Europe," Wolfersdorff said. "And the volumes are there in India as well."
He added it does not behoove European tire and rubber companies to import carbon black from China because China's feedstock is almost exclusively coal tar, which is linked to the steel industry.
"And as steel goes down and the steel industry reduces output, coal tar is much more expensive and not available in large volumes as it was before," he said.
But while imports from India and Saudi Arabia may not have the price hikes related to coal tar feedstocks, they still have the freight premiums.
Another option that is gaining in momentum outside of hydrocarbon-based carbon black production is to look at recovered carbon black from tire pyrolysis.
"While the furnace carbon black industry requires both gas and oil for the production, the tire pyrolysis industry itself is producing gas, oil and recovered carbon black from end-of-life-tires, of which Europe produces about 3.5 million tons per year," Wolfersdorff said. "This is an industry that can help the European tire industry in the medium and long term."
Using recycled waste heat, tire pyrolysis facilities are self-sufficient, recycling tires from both a thermal and material standpoint, he said.
At the Smithers Recovered Carbon Black Conference in November, Michelin and Bridgestone EMIA demonstrated interest in using recovered carbon black.
"But the tire pyrolysis industry needs support," Wolfersdorff said. "It needs support from European Commission law makers on the 'end-of-waste' status. It needs support from NGOs ... to lobby for the safe tire recycling through pyrolysis. It needs support from trade journals ... for unbiased and fact-based reporting on the industry.
"Most of all, the tire pyrolysis industry needs peer support. There is more to accomplish in shorter time when peers collaborate. The industry does not need proclaimed leaders, but it needs a group effort."