Feature Image of Natural Rubber Sheet vs. Synthetic Alternatives: How to Choose The Greener Option

Natural Rubber Sheet vs. Synthetic Alternatives: How to Choose The Greener Option

Majority of the people think natural rubber sheet is more eco-friendly. But, is it entirely true?
Is a synthetic rubber sheet going to be the next big sustainable part of the industries?
Come on, let’s do a quick cross-section of one of the most debatable topics- which is more eco-friendly?
Natural rubber sheet or synthetic rubber sheet?

Natural Rubber: A Plant-Based Product

The natural rubber is harvested from the Pará rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) by the rubber product supplier. Rubber grows on around 14 million hectares worldwide.

Here are the environmental advantages that natural rubber sheet boasts:

  • Renewable Rubber Sheet: Rubber trees are replanted after tapping, making natural rubber a renewable resource. A synthetic rubber sheet is produced from compounds obtained from fossil fuels.

  • Natural Rubber Sheet is Biodegradable: A natural rubber sheet eventually decomposes, returning organic matter back into the soil. This reduces landfill waste compared to synthetic alternatives that can linger for centuries.

  • Natural Rubber Sheet Supports Biodiversity: Rubber plantations can provide habitats for various species, promoting biodiversity in some regions. Around 25 types of wild bees are found in natural rubber plantations.

 Being a green product, many core industries prefer natural rubber sheet uses to synthetic versions. However, the catch here is, that natural rubber sheets also have some flipsides.

Natural Rubber Sheet: Not So Environment-Friendly?

The risks of deforestation:
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The demand for natural rubber sheet is increasing worldwide. AIRIA has decided to double the exports of rubber products by 2025. Moreover, from recent market surveys, experts have found huge possibilities for rubber products to outshine their artificial counterparts.

Increased demand for natural rubber can lead to deforestation, especially in Southeast Asia, to make way for plantations. Deforestation tags more problems alongwith- soil erosion, low rainfall, and biodiversity loss to name a few.

Chemical Use:

The processing of natural rubber can involve chemicals that can pollute waterways if not managed responsibly. Similar to deforestation, chemicals can cause equal harm to the environment. However, nowadays, many natural rubber sheet manufacturers have become conscious.

What can you do as a buyer?

As a buyer, you do not know, from where the rubber for your natural rubber sheet has been sourced. Furthermore, what are the chemicals used. Nonetheless, if it is from an unethical plantation, you may end up in dire distress. Apart from the legal consequences, you may also get morally guilt-ridden.

The best way to avoid any such thing is to straightaway ask the rubber product suppliers for their certifications. A certified organization always stays true to its practices.

Choosing suppliers with eco-conscious processing methods is essential.

Synthetic Rubber Sheet: Is It More Sustainable?

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Some rubber sheets like nitrile or neoprene are petroleum-based products. A nitrile or neoprene rubber sheet is highly durable, more resilient, and lasts longer. Of course, they have better functionality than a natural rubber sheet. But, a synthetic rubber sheet is not fail-safe. It can be harmful to the environment, because:

  • Dependance on Fossil Fuel: Synthetic rubber production relies on non-renewable fossil fuels, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and resource depletion. Depletion of fossil fuel layers is always a concern. Whether it is a self-adhesive rubber sheet or one that requires thorough installation, the composition is more or less the same.

  • Manufacturing Footprint: Preparing a synthetic rubber sheet is more intensive. According to the manufacturers and rubber product suppliers, a synthetic rubber sheet is mixed with other compounds to increase their strength. Therefore, the manufacturing process for synthetic rubber can be energy-intensive, further impacting the environment.

  • Disposal Challenges: Synthetic rubber is not biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills, potentially creating microplastics over time. That is not all, they can release harmful chemicals and pollutants into the soil and groundwater as they break down. Some manufacturers incinerate a synthetic rubber sheet. However, that should not be the ideal practice as well. Burning rubber sheet generates a huge amount of heat energy and smoke.

Then…How to Find the Greener Rubber Sheet?

To find a greener rubber sheet, you can quickly take out the answers to the below questions.

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1. What is the application of my rubber sheet:

Consider the specific use case. If biodegradability is crucial (e.g., disposable gloves), ethically sourced natural rubber sheet might be better. For high-durability applications (e.g., industrial gaskets), synthetic rubber sheets might last longer, reducing frequent replacement needs.

2. Is the rubber sheet sourced ethically:

If you want to buy a natural rubber sheet, prioritize FSC-certified sources to minimize deforestation risks. Along with that, go for an ISO-certified organization.

3. What should be the ideal durability of my rubber sheet:

Choose a sheet with the optimal lifespan for its application. A long-lasting synthetic rubber sheet might be preferable to a short-lived natural rubber sheet, even with its disposal challenges. Nowadays, many companies offer sustainable recycling options. You can reduce the carbon footprint by consulting with them.

4. How innovative is the product:

Research is ongoing for more sustainable synthetic rubber production methods using bio-based materials. As one of the most reputed rubber product suppliers, we invest our time and resources in continuous R&D. We make sure that our rubber sheets are sustainable and produce a lesser carbon footprint.

How Duratuf Helps You Stay Environment Friendly With Our Rubber Sheet?

Whether you buy a natural rubber sheet or a synthetic rubber sheet from us, our product experts are there to help you stay on the greener side. Here is the Duratuf Promise to our customers:

  1. We source the materials for manufacturing our rubber sheets from sustainable and environmentally responsible suppliers.
  2. Our manufacturing processes are designed to minimize energy consumption, water usage, and waste generation.
  3. Our rubber sheets are engineered for durability and longevity, reducing the need for frequent replacements and minimizing waste generation.
  4. Our commitment to environmental responsibility is reflected in our certifications and accreditations
  5. We provide resources, training, and guidance on eco-friendly practices and initiatives.

 More than 3655+ customers prefer us for our ethical practices. Do you want to view our client list?

The Bottomline

The environmental impact of natural vs. synthetic rubber sheets is a complex issue. While natural rubber offers renewability and biodegradability, responsible sourcing is crucial. Synthetic alternatives, despite their fossil fuel dependence, can be a better choice for some applications if they offer superior durability. Ultimately, a combination of factors and responsible sourcing practices will determine the greener option for your specific needs.

We can guide you to choose the right product. Let us know if you have any questions!

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