Natural rubber still a strategic resource for Europe

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The European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers’ Association (ETRMA) has welcomed the publication of the European Union’s 2020 Communication on Critical Raw Materials, which retains natural rubber (NR) in its list of critical raw materials. NR is the only biotic material to be included on the list, and was included in 2017.

According to the organization, the tire industry alone absorbs about 76% of all the natural rubber produced globally. Today, there is no substitute for natural rubber from hevea trees that could be used in all current applications. ETRMA states inclusion in the critical raw materials list reconfirms NR’s priority status in EU policy, and the importance of securing fair and sustainable supply of natural rubber for European industry. It also provides further support for ongoing industry research into alternative sources of natural rubber.

As highlighted in the report, the EU neither produces nor processes natural rubber. This means that the block is entirely dependent on imports, mainly from Southeast Asia. The biotic nature and unique characteristics of natural rubber mean that it is difficult to substitute through alternative sources or secondary raw materials, creating many uncertainties for producers and end users.

“The recognition of natural rubber as a critical raw material for the second time is of great importance for our industry. It confirms the European Commission’s ambition to support industry efforts to diversify supply, both by stimulating production beyond traditional producing countries and by increasing the scalability of the production of natural rubber from alternative plant sources of latex that could be grown in Europe,” commented Fazilet Cinaralp, ETRMA secretary general.

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