The demand for sustainable material to create products like tires is soaring – and Lehigh Technologies, a specialty chemicals company that produces sustainable raw materials from end-of-life tires and post-industrial rubber, is expanding to meet that need. Production has started at the company’s new Murillo el Fruto Micronized Rubber Powder (MRP) plant in Navarra, Spain. The plant will help the company “meet the rising demand for green chemicals in Europe and beyond,” says Jason Stravinski, Lehigh’s VP of operations.
MRP is a low-cost, high-performance sustainable raw material that replaces oil- and rubber-based materials, according to Lehigh. The company takes end-of-life tires and other post-industrial rubber and turns it into micron-scale powders that are sold to manufacturers of products like consumer and industrial plastics goods, asphalt and coatings, construction materials, and tires.
Lehigh is working with a leading tire recycler in Spain, Indugarbi NFU, which will ensure efficient supply of granulate feedstock for the MRP manufacturing process. The plant will produce Lehigh’s PolyDyne and MicroDyne range of MRP. The plant has the capacity to produce 10,000 metric tons of MRP a year.
‘It’s Strictly Business…’
Demand for such materials is rising as manufacturing companies increasingly make pledges to use more sustainable materials in their products. Michelin, for example, recently announced that its tires will contain 80% sustainable materials by 2048. (Lehigh Technologies became a subsidiary of Michelin in late 2017.)
By incorporating more sustainable materials into their products, companies are reducing risk related to sourcing and ensuring the long-term availability of key commodities.
General Motors is another company that has recently announced a pledge to eventually source only sustainable natural rubber in its tires. “The business case helped drive this change,” GM’s senior VP of global purchasing and supply chain, Steve Kiefer, told Environmental Leader last May. By working with its supply base to source sustainable tires in a strategic, collaborative way, “we can ensure volume meets growing global demand through improved yields,” he said.
GM is working directly with suppliers that support the goal of using only sustainable natural rubber tires, including Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear and Michelin.
Vendors Mentioned Above