Hold your breath, because before we delve deep into the question, it would only be appropriate if you get a clear idea about the different kinds of rubber that is available in the market, and are highly useful in our everyday life.
So what are the different types of rubber available in the market?
Given below is the list of different rubbers:
First and foremost comes natural rubber, which is a key component in the manufacturing of rubber sheet products like a commercial rubber sheet and many more, and is made from an oozy the material known to us as latex which is collected from the tree called Hevea brasiliensis.
This particular tree is sometimes referred to as by many as the Para rubber tree and is available at different plantations all over the globe.
Next, we come recycled rubber which is a special type of rubber, which is produced using the recycled rubber from tires.
And most importantly, as they are produced from tire rubbers, they have excellent durability and sturdiness, because as we know tires are the one which has to go through and withstand extreme of conditions.
This type of rubber is made from the recycled tire rubber which is ground and then turned into crumbs and lastly reformed as per the industrial requirement. They are used as flooring in playgrounds and its commercial application includes it being used in order to manufacture specialized parts.
And lastly, we come to reclaimed rubber, which is nothing else but rejected and discarded elastomer that has gone under the process of de-vulcanization.
This makes them perfectly suited for a production similar to other raw materials.
All of the aforementioned kinds of rubber, when compared to other petroleum-based elastomers, which according to experts are less eco-friendly, are extremely environment-friendly, and more importantly, all of these rubbers are in huge demand in the currently open market.
Now, let us move on to the tree that gives us the latex that is used in the production of rubber – the Para rubber tree!!
This tree is mainly found in the tropical region and is primarily grown as a cash crop in many countries in the South Americas and in Southeast Asia. Some of these countries include India, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.
And the rubber that is produced from the latex of this tree is completely natural, and therefore, has high eco-friendly properties.
Moreover, it has been found that a Para rubber tree is not only an ecologically sustainable crop, but it is also responsible and, in fact, contributes to the maintenance of the level of carbon in our atmosphere.
But does not the process of collecting latex hurts these trees?
Anyone who is worried that the process of collecting latex actually cause harm to the tree can breathe a sigh of relief after hearing the fact that the tree is only partially wounded (which involves making a small an incision on the outer surface), and that they are used only for a certain period of time after which it is allowed to heal naturally.
(Bonus info: You would be surprised to know that the secretion of the latex is part of a Para rubber tree’s natural healing process!)
So what really happens to the latex that is collected with such care and expertise?
The latex that is collected from the Para rubber tree is first of all strained carefully following which it is diluted with water and then treated with acid.
After this, it is rolled into sheets and air-dried carefully in order to make it ready for use.
The use of this completely natural and renewable resource is one of the best ways to produce rubber that is not only environment-friendly but are also used in the production of cheap rubber sheets that can be afforded by anyone and everyone.
A brief discussion on the difference and similarities between recycled and reclaimed rubber:
This kind of rubber is made from the recycled rubber from discarded tires, which are ground up, after which they are turned into crumbs which is then cut into different mesh sizes so that it can be used for multiple applications.
Although this kind of rubber is produced from the rubber of discarded tires as well just like in the case of recycled rubber, the only difference lies in the fact that it has to under the process of de-vulcanization and vulcanization once more.
The vulcanization process is the addition of sulfur to the rubber itself, with the purpose of creating cross-linked bonds, which gives extra strength to the material.
So, the answer to your question – whether or not rubber is eco-friendly, is YES they are, and the credit for this goes to the Para rubber tree whose sap is a sustainable material.
And this is even more true in the case of recycled and reclaimed rubber!