LanzaTech and Sumitomo Riko Partner to Create Substitute for Natural Rubber Production
LanzaTech NZ, Inc., an innovative Carbon Capture and Transformation (CCT) company that transforms waste carbon into materials such as sustainable fuels, fabrics, packaging, and other products that people use in their daily lives, and Sumitomo Riko Company Limited, announced they entered into a joint-development agreement to reuse rubber, resin, and urethane waste for the production of a key chemical intermediate, isoprene.
Isoprene is produced by plants and, along with its polymers, is the main component of natural rubber. 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. Furthermore, as with other agriculturally based industries, climate change and disease can have a significant impact on production.
Jennifer Holmgren, the CEO of LanzaTech, said:
"This exciting partnership with Sumitomo gives us a chance to make a big difference for the better in the way rubber is made. Thanks to increasing demand across multiple sectors, including medical and automotive, the global isoprene market is projected to be worth around $4 billion by 2025. We need to find new, sustainable ways to make rubber so that it doesn't hurt the land or wildlife.
"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 enable domestic, sustainable production of this key raw material around the world.”
Kazushi Shimizu, President and CEO of Sumitomo Riko Company Limited, said:
"We want to be a sustainable company, so we see a lot of potential in recycling and reusing our waste. Approximately 46,000 tonnes of natural and synthetic rubber are used annually in our leading rubber products, 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 to find a new way to get to isoprene, LanzaTech's platform based on nature could create a new source of rubber that can be recycled without losing any of its quality.
“Together with Sumitomo, we aim to create a sustainable supply chain that enables not only circularity but also keeps our forests and planet healthy,” said Holmgren. "We need more than one way to make the important things in our lives, and we're thrilled to be working with Sumitomo to make isoprene."