The global rubber processing chemicals market has been steadily increasing and has been projected to reach new heights in the coming years. In 2018 alone, the industry was valued at approximately $4.8 billion. It should come as no surprise that this market is so mammoth; products all around us are manufactured with or made of rubber, including tires, gloves, flooring, and pipes. Its popularity is only driven by the fact that rubber provides improved resistance to heat, sunlight, and mechanical stress, among other natural forces. Combining popular and widely used items with a material that improves durability and extends its life cycle adds up to the growing boom in the market.
As the market continues to grow and demand continues to rise, chemical companies will need to manufacture more product to keep up. However, as production rises, likely so will waste, a significant issue that has many chemical producers searching for alternative methods and sources to create more sustainable and environmentally-friendly processes. Companies have been refining their procedures to decrease unnecessary waste through improved operations and process modifications, as shown in an analysis by the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency. The report also shows a somewhat concerning trend of decreased output but increased waste, showing that the waste turnout is something that needs to be focused on. The recycling of materials and resources has significantly increased, but not enough to counteract the shifts in production, something that companies need to keep in mind.
Some companies have begun to follow a business model known as Chemical Leasing. This model shifts away from the idea that more output should lead to more profit, and instead looks at increasing value and quality while extending the manufacturer’s responsibility for accountability throughout the product’s full life cycle. By focusing on using resources of the highest quality to reduce the risks brought with chemicals and to increase efficiency, companies are able to form trusts with consumers and other companies to create a stronger industry. By working together, companies are put in positions where they can learn about partner companies’ specialties and expand their knowledge to improve their operations. Often, companies only contribute to part of an overarching process, so by following the Chemical Leasing model, they will have enough to properly complete what they are required to, reducing potential waste of materials unneeded in their processes.
In many markets, including the rubber processing market, the finished product’s quality is directly influenced by the materials used, so finding alternative resources could be detrimental to the overall finished product. While a company may find an substitute material that is more environmentally friendly, this may not allow for the creation of a quality product up to existing standards. However, finding an alternative that works and works well helps consumers and the environment. Butadiene is an organic compound found in many rubber-based and plastic-based products, including tires. Typically, butadiene is a byproduct from the cracking of naphtha, an oil with many hydrocarbons and characteristics useful for a number of processes. However, the process of cracking naphtha involves extreme heating that uses a significant amount of energy and releases a significant amount of emissions into the air.
However, ETB Catalytic Technologies, a startup originating in Russia, has found a way to use a catalyst to turn ethanol into butadiene. Because of this, the energy goes directly into making butadiene instead of creating another process that they creates the organic compound as a byproduct. In these processes, the startup has found that emissions are at least three times lower. This also comes at a time when shale gas is being cracked more frequently than naphtha, something that creates less butadiene. ETB Catalytic Technologies is seeing its operations expanding as more interest in green chemical production grows. While it is still a pilot program, larger chemical companies are learning about the startup’s processes and signing on to join forces and improve their own procedures. With more companies looking to streamline production and eliminate unneeded waste, it is very likely that this will help make a positive impact on creating a healthier and more sustainable environment.
Check out our Investment Recovery and Redeployment Solutions to help promote sustainability throughout your manufacturing process and daily operations. We offer a number of solutions to help divert equipment from landfills, extend an asset’s life span, and to provide your company with environmentally-friendly options to strengthen your business.
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