Sumitomo Rubber Industries and Sumitomo Electric Industries have joined a joint development partnership between Sumitomo Riko and LanzaTech Global to develop recycling technologies that support a circular economy.
Sumitomo Riko formed a joint development agreement with LanzaTech Global, a USA-based carbon recycling firm, in November 2022. Both Sumitomo Rubber and Sumitomo Electric will now join this partnership to form a circular economy by transforming waste materials – including rubber, resin, urethane and metal – into new resources.
Through the TOWANOWA circular economy concept, Sumitomo Rubber will use LanzaTech’s bio-recycling technology to transform waste materials from tires into isoprene, which can then be used as new rubber materials. The collaboration will achieve this by gasifying the waste materials and purifying the resulting gas. This will then be put through a fermentation process to turn the gas into new raw materials.
The collaboration’s end goal is to work with raw material manufacturers to evaluate the feasibility of establishing a recycling technology which enables the reuse of isoprene as materials for rubber and resin. The group is also seeking to recycle metals recovered during the gasifying process, before reusing them as raw materials.
The group manufactures and sells a diverse selection of tires globally – annual tire sales total 110,000,000 (as of 2022). As new tires are manufactured and sold, a significant number of tires are thrown away every year. Many tires that get discarded in Japan are later incinerated, with the generated heat being put to practical use.
Sumitomo Rubber states it must advance its “Recovery and Recycling” initiatives to make the TOWANOWA circular economy concept work.