Is rubber a recyclable material?
Coming from the latex that certain plants produce or manufactured artificially, rubber is an elastic and waterproof substance that is used in the manufacturing process of many products. And the fashion industry is no exception!
If we want to consume ethically and responsibly, rubber can certainly do just that. In fact, there are three methods of recycling rubber. The first is micronization: this mechanical grinding of rubber makes it possible to reduce this substance to the state of microparticles. A recycled rubber powder is thus produced before being incorporated into new rubber, up to 10%.
Another non-toxic process involves breaking the sulfur bonds in the rubber using an environmentally friendly devulcanizer: this is called rubber vulcanization. This recycling process makes it possible to obtain recycled rubber of good quality and which can be entirely reused in the design of new products.
Finally, pyrolysis is a recycling technique often reserved for old tires to be recycled. It treats them at a very high temperature and in the absence of oxygen to obtain rubber in the form of oil (30 to 50%), in the form of black carbon (25 to 40%) or even in the form of energy. (10 to 25%).
In other words, when it comes to recycling, rubber is no exception!
What is recycled rubber?
Every year, more than 15 million tonnes of old tires are buried, thrown away or incinerated on Earth. However, these perspectives, in addition to not being very environmentally friendly, waste a great recycling opportunity.
As its name suggests, recycled rubber is nothing other than a recycled version of previously used rubber that is given a second life. This ecological and responsible alternative avoids having to resort to a new, freshly designed material when a huge pool of discarded rubber can still be usable.
To help you find your way around, know that it is possible to distinguish three forms of rubber:
Natural rubber : it comes from the rubber tree and therefore constitutes an exhaustible and controversial natural resource. Natural rubber is useful when it comes from responsible sources, as is the case with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council®) labeled products;
Synthetic rubber : this type of rubber comes from hydrocarbons… and is therefore very polluting. It's best to avoid it as much as possible!
Recycled rubber : this is the most ecological alternative available in terms of rubber. In fact, 70% of recycled rubber comes from used tires, but also from industrial waste, manufacturing scraps, etc.
Using recycled rubber therefore makes it possible to limit waste and depletion of a natural resource such as the rubber tree.
What are the uses of recycled rubber?
Common uses of recycled rubber
Recycling rubber from used tires has already attracted many shoe brands and other major sectors: you can now find recycled rubber in several everyday products.
The recycled rubber planter is a good example: in variable designs, they allow everyone to enjoy terraces or flower gardens while remaining respectful of the environment.
Most ice rink flooring, such as cushioning tile, is also made from recycled rubber. Very robust and non-slip, this material resists the impacts of ice skates and is therefore durable.
You can also enjoy the benefits of recycled rubber from home, including installing water-resistant rubber carpet for your exterior. A roll of recycled rubber insulation can also be useful for insulating a heating or air conditioning system.
Timing chain and belt, elastic bands and other everyday accessories are also made of probably recycled rubber. Why not take the plunge when it comes to your wardrobe?
Recycled rubber in fashion
Whether natural, synthetic or recycled, rubber is used in the same way in the fashion sector: it constitutes part of your bags and shoes!
Can recycled rubber be ethical?
Recycled rubber is emerging as a much more ethical and ecological alternative than synthetic or natural rubber. Integrating biosourced and recycled materials into products from the rubber industry is a way of avoiding natural or petroleum products, which are much more harmful to the environment.
According to the WWF, natural rubber could be more ethical and responsible if it were not involved in the massive deforestation plaguing South East Asia. On the other hand, synthetic rubber is derived from petroleum: its production and destruction involve pollution that is worth avoiding.
Recycled rubber therefore represents the alternative most compatible with the ecological challenges of ethical fashion. There are numerous rubber recycling channels : devulcanized rubber, crumbs, recycled carbon blacks, rubber granulates... We would almost be spoiled for choice!
More and more ethical fashion brands are turning to recycled rubber to make their shoes or handbags. So, ecological fashion is possible!
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