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Sustainable Rubber Products Destined for European Markets

Andrew Burger headshotWords by Andrew Burger
Leadership & Transparency

“Reduce, Recycle, Reuse”--the three R's--is a central plank and green mantra being used by national governments and international organizations around the world to spur sustainable development and the transition to low-carbon green economies. Aiming to boost the uptake of sustainable raw materials across Europe, Spanish “waste-to-resource” company HERA Holding and Tucker, Georgia's "green" materials supplier Lehigh Technologies, announced a partnership on September 26 that will provide micronized rubber powder (MRP) produced from end-of-life tires and post-industrial rubber for Europe's tire, consumer and industrial plastics and coatings industries.

Europe's economy, society and environment, as well as HERA and Lehigh Technologies, stand to gain as a result. Lehigh's PolyDyne MRP offers manufacturers a lower cost, sustainable source of rubber “without sacrificing the reliability and performance of traditional raw materials,” Lehigh Technologies notes. With its MRP being used by five of the world's ten largest tire companies in the world, more than 140 million tires have been manufactured using Lehigh Technologies' MRP.

Sustainable rubber in tires: "The Road to 1 Billion"
According to Lehigh, every pound of its MRP saves:

  • Nearly a gallon of oil

  • 10kWh of energy vs. traditional alternatives

  • Nearly half the CO2 of traditional alternatives

The goal of the partnership is to see Lehigh's MRP introduced in the European market through HERA Holding's recycling plant in Navarra, Spain, which is to be adapted to allow for the production of MRP.
'HERA is committed to the advancement of environmental excellence, managing waste resources and developing methods and approaches to repurpose those materials to meet the growing demand for sustainable products in Europe,' stated HERA Group CEO Jordi Gallego in a press release. 'This partnership with Lehigh is an example of how our company achieves this goal – we partner with innovative technology companies that are focused on sustainability and on transforming end-of-life material into new resources.'

Using its “cryogenic turbo mill technology,” Lehigh Technologies “transforms end-of-life tires and post-industrial rubber into a low-cost, sustainable replacement for synthetic polymers and associated rubber compounds for use in tires and a wide variety of other high-performance rubber products,” the company explains.

The partnership with HERA Group opens up potentially lucrative new markets for Lehigh Technologies' cryogenic turbo mill technology and MRP. “HERA’s focus on technology innovation and collaborative approach complements Lehigh’s approach- assisting customers in developing MRP applications that meet cost, performance and sustainability targets,” commented CEO Alan Barton. “Furthermore, Europe is an attractive geography due to the focus on sustainability, the receptiveness we have seen already to our MRP and similarities of applications and high performance requirements to other global markets.”

In addition to Europe, HERA also owns companies and operations in South America and the Middle East. The company's been operating recycling plants that transform municipal and industrial waste into energy and raw materials since the mid-1980s.

The partnership with HERA will take Lehigh Technologies further along in its “The Road to 1 Billion” drive. The campaign aims to put 1 billion tires made from PolyDyne MRP on the road, spurring “an industry-wide effort to increase the environmental contributions of the tire industry through the use of innovative, sustainable materials, including the consumption of oil in the production of new tires.”

Lehigh last month raised $16 million of capital from a syndicate of top-tier venture capital firms led by Leaf Clean Energy that included Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (KPCB), Index Ventures and NGP Technology Partners. Management stated that the funds will go toward expanding the green materials company's geographic reach and MRP research and development (R&D) initiatives.

*Image credit: Lehigh Technologies

Andrew Burger headshotAndrew Burger

An experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.

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