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LanzaTech and Sumitomo Riko partner to produce natural rubber substitute

LanzaTech, a company that transforms waste carbon into materials such as sustainable fuels, fabrics, packaging, and Sumitomo Riko Company Limited, has announced that they have entered into a joint-development agreement to reuse rubber, resin and urethane waste for the production of a key chemical intermediate, isoprene.  × Untitled design - 1 Isoprene is produced by plants, and along with its polymers, is the main component of natural rubber. According to the company Natural rubber is widely regarded as more eco-friendly than synthetic rubber from virgin fossil inputs, but without strong sustainability certification and audits, the impact of harvesting natural rubber from trees has been linked in some cases to deforestation, biodiversity loss and soil erosion. In addition, much like other agriculturally based industries, climate change and disease can severely impact production. 

Jennifer Holmgren, Chief Executive Officer, LanzaTech said: “This exciting partnership with Sumitomo represents an opportunity to make a significant positive impact on the production of rubber,thanks to increasing demand across multiple sectors, including medical and automotive, the global isoprene market is projected to be worth around US $4 billion by 2025. We need new sustainable pathways for the production of rubber, to avoid any impact on land and biodiversity. To be able to make isoprene directly from waste rubber and other waste resources is truly groundbreaking, will keep fossil carbon in the ground and will enable domestic, sustainable production of this key raw material around the world.” 

Kazushi Shimizu, President & CEO of Sumitomo Riko Company Limited said: “As we aim to be a sustainable company, we see a vast potential to recycle and reuse our waste materials.  Approximately 46,000 tons of natural and synthetic rubber are used in our leading rubber products annually, making rubber one of our most important raw materials. A large amount of rubber waste is also produced from the manufacturing process as well as extracted from used automobile parts. Our joint development with LanzaTech aims to recycle rubber waste directly into a substitute for natural rubber.” 

Using synthetic biology for this new path to isoprene, LanzaTech claims their new nature-based platform, has the potential to produce a new sustainable source of rubber through recycling, without losing any material integrity. 

Holmgren added: “Together with Sumitomo, we aim to create a sustainable supply chain, that enables not only circularity but keeps our forests and planet healthy, we need multiple pathways to succeed in producing the key materials in our lives, and we are delighted to be working on isoprene production with Sumitomo.”

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Publication date: 07/12/2022

European Plastic Product Manufacturer

This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31