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What Is Natural Rubber And Where Do I Use It?

  • Natural rubber (NR) is a natural biotic material which is harvested from rubber trees. It has been classified as a critical raw material for the EU and it consists mainly of isoprene polymers.

  • Natural rubber is extracted from rubber trees growing in tropical forests in a form of latex, and then processed into different rubber products. Dried natural rubber is often vulcanised to give a better elasticity and durability for the final rubber products.

  • Natural rubber is used in the production of tyres (75% of EU rubber consumption) and the sector of automotive, tubing, footwear, construction materials and food contact materials.

  • Europe is completely dependent on imports of natural rubber.


Where is Natural Rubber Produced?

  • The three largest producers are Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Together, these countries account for 72% of natural rubber production.

  • Around 25 million tonnes of rubber are produced per year, of which 30% is natural. Synthetic rubber is derived from petrochemical sources.


How much does it cost?

  • In March 2020, the price of rubber amounted to $1.50/kg.

  • Since 2011, it reached a high of $4.82/kg; the price decreased to an annual average of $1.64/kg in 2019.


Specific Issues for Graphite

  • Recovered biotic waste can’t be recycled back to the same application or with the same products as the original raw material because of contamination risks.

  • As to the recycling process of used tyres, natural rubber is collected with the other materials present in the tyres and then used in flooring applications.

  • The recycling input rate of natural rubber is only 1%. 

  • End-of-life tyres in the EU have a high recovery rate, but it is still impossible to recover materials from tyres and put them back in new tyres because of security and environmental performance.

  • Natural rubber supply can be affected by environmental risk exposure (insects, pests, pathogens…). Increase of outbreaks can be influenced by climate change and global trade of biotic products.