Synthos and Tyre Recycling Solutions see spike in demand for TireXol™ recycled rubber
Poland’s Synthos S.A., the chemical producer and synthetic rubber major, and the Swiss company Tyre Recycling Solutions (TRS) say their collaboration is progressing according to plan. Synthos obtained a minority stake in the successful scale-up company following the acquisition of Trinseo’s synthetic rubber (SR) business at the end of last year.
In addition to the progress Synthos and TRS have made together in the marketplace, resulting in approvals with global tire manufacturers and initial commercial sales for tire applications, the two companies report a sharp increase in interest in TireXol™ recycled rubber. This surge in interest is attributed to the reduced availability of SR and carbon black since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, as well as to the upcoming regulatory changes in Europe that are likely to mandate the use of recycled content in tire production.
Although Europe produces about 1 million tonnes of carbon black annually, in Germany, Hungary, and Italy, it remains dependent on imports of the main feedstocks for carbon black production (e.g., heavy oils) as well as carbon black imports. With total European consumption of carbon black estimated at 1.6 million tonnes per year, Russian and Ukrainian supplies account for about 38 percent of the market, leading to an urgent need among tire and rubber manufacturers to seek an alternative supply.
“At Synthos, we stand in solidarity with Ukraine. Therefore, we view the business opportunities arising from the current crisis with mixed feelings,” said Matteo Marchisio, Business Unit Director, Synthos
Synthetic Rubber. “We are faced not only with significantly higher demand for synthetic rubber from our strategic customers but also with the fact that the tire market is increasingly looking to diversify its raw material supply strategy, especially in the area of sustainable alternatives, in order to structurally reduce its dependence on supplies from Russia and Belarus.”
In addition to the lack of availability of synthetic rubber and carbon black on the market, Synthos and TRS say that the ‘game changer’ Ecodesign Regulation recently announced by the European Commission will also play a role in accelerating the market acceptance of high-quality rubber powder from end-of-life tires (ELTs). With many leading tire manufacturers anticipating the upcoming legislative changes in the EU regarding a potential minimum content of recycled material in tires, it has become clear that rubber powder is seen as a good alternative, especially when it will be available on a large scale.
“The market dynamics we are experiencing today reinforce our belief that high-quality recycled rubber powder is a viable alternative to virgin material in high-performance rubber applications,” remarked Staffan Ahlgren, CEO of TRS. “We are committed to establishing a total recycling capacity of more than 200.000 tonnes of TireXol™ rubber powder by 2026 to meet industry demand. Our plan is to ensure a secure supply of recycled rubber powder in geographic areas close to our tire customers that not only fills the market gap but also enables the industry to offer products with a smaller environmental footprint.”
Synthos pointed out that its commercial and technical collaboration with TRS is fully in line with the company’s commitment to providing its SR customers with high-performance material solutions with a lower environmental footprint, as well as its 2030 Sustainability Commitments on Climate Change, Green Raw Materials, Sustainable Product Portfolio, Green Energy and Responsible Partnerships.