The global reclaimed rubber market size is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 9.6% during the forecast period (2023–2031).
Reclaimed rubber is a product created from discarded rubber and intended to replace or augment fresh rubber in the production of rubber goods. Most recycled rubber is created via the alkali process, which involves mixing crushed scrap rubber with a sodium hydroxide solution and softeners under pressure to break down the fabric, eliminate free sulfur, and plasticize the rubber. Before commercialization, the product is cleaned, dried, refined, strained, and occasionally compounded.
Some recycled rubber is created using the acid method, which varies from the alkali process primarily because the fabric is first destroyed by the ground scrap being digested with the sulfuric acid solution before the rubber is plasticized by steam under pressure. The majority of mechanical rubber products are made with reclaimed rubber. It is also utilized in footwear, sheeting, matting, belting, cable bedding compound, tires, inner tubes, tire lining, tire repair, tire retreading, general molding, belting, adhesives, and mastics.
Since conventional virgin rubber is not degradable, end-of-life tire recycling has become a major global issue. The European Union, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and North American countries have started implementing schemes to promote tire recycling to produce reclaimed rubber from tire waste as a substitute for conventional rubber. For instance, the California Tire Recycling Management Fund, established by the California Recycling Tire Act of 1989, funds tire recycling efforts and the use of recycled tire rubber products.
Additionally, the extended responsibility program initiated by European countries such as the Netherlands, Sweden, and Germany mandates tire manufacturers to manage the entire product life cycle of the tires produced. This is expected to drive the rubber recycling industry, contributing to the growth of the market. Compared to conventional virgin rubber, the good weather resistance and resilience offered by reclaimed rubber are expected to fuel the demand for reclaimed rubber as a substitute material.
The global automotive industry struggled with the COVID-19 pandemic-induced plant shutdowns and the disruption of shipping lines due to border closures. This resulted in a shortage of natural rubber, an essential material used in components under the automotive hood and tires. According to the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries, China was the largest user of natural rubber in 2020, followed by India, the European Union, and the U.S. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a rubber shortage.
Additionally, automobile manufacturers such as Stellantis N.V., Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and the France-based tire manufacturer MICHELIN witnessed an acute shortage of rubber, which impacted their overall production in 2020. Since reclaimed rubber is produced from waste tire scraps, uncertain situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which leads to disturbances in the supply chain and halts trade due to the closing of boundaries, are expected to drive the market by propelling countries to concentrate on deriving raw material from waste tires and reduce dependency on raw material import over the forecast period.
Asia is the hotspot for the majority of reclaimed rubber manufacturing. India, Vietnam, China, and other Asian countries receive the most scrap rubber. Rubber reclamation reduces tire waste, but tire trash cannot be recycled. This has led many Asian governments to control waste tire imports for pyrolysis. In addition, the Indian National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to limit waste tire imports in October 2019, which includes banning extremely polluting pyrolysis companies from using end-of-life tires (ELTs). This restricted the demand for reclaimed rubber since tire scrap is the raw material for reclaimed rubber production, thereby hindering market growth.
Tires are a major problem in many countries because they do not decompose and last a long time in landfills. The negative impact of dumping tire waste in landfills has driven many countries to implement strict regulations to conserve the environment. In September 2020, a new solid waste law was enacted, emphasizing the solid waste handling principles of reduction, recycling, and harmlessness. It also strengthens the supervision and management responsibilities of the government and its relevant departments to achieve "zero" solid waste imports and integrate solid waste management into the current environmental programs.
As of 2030, the European Union Directive (EU) 2018/850 restricts the landfilling of all waste appropriate for recycling, other material, or energy recovery. This has prompted the European tire industry to implement the circular economy program, which focuses on sustainably employing raw materials, reducing waste, and replacing materials that may challenge end-of-life tire recycling. Therefore, the regulations imposed on dumping end-of-life tires and tire scrap in landfills are expected to create an opportunity for rubber recycling and reclaimed rubber over the forecast period.
The global market is segmented by product and end-user.
Based on product, the global market for reclaimed rubber is bifurcated into whole tire reclaim rubber, butyl reclaim rubber, EPDM reclaim rubber, and others.
The whole tire reclaim rubber segment dominates the global market and is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 10.6% over the forecast period. Whole tire reclaimed rubber is produced from tread peelings and worn-out tires. The product has superior elongation and tensile strength, as well as superior abrasion resistance, tear resistance, expiration life, and energy efficiency during mixing. It is suitable for generating tire sidewalls, tire plies, and tire treads and retreads due to the properties above.
Rubber made from recycled butyl tubes is created by desulfurizing the used tubes. It is a synthetic rubber with an air-impermeable copolymer of isobutylene and isoprene. This enables its use in applications that require impermeable rubber. Recycled butyl rubber has a quicker vulcanization rate and higher polarity than virgin butyl rubber, resulting in greater compatibility with other types of rubber and enhanced aging resistance. It is often used with natural rubber that provides faster mixing and extrusion to produce rubber products with significantly improved permeability to gas, heat resistance, and aging resistance.
In addition, the growing shift toward including sustainable materials in products by various end-user industries is expected to drive the demand for butyl reclaim rubber as a replacement for butyl rubber, thus significantly reducing the cost of raw materials. Butyl reclaims rubber is best suited for cable compounds, adhesives, inner tire liners, inner tubes, molded goods such as seals, and roofing applications.
Based on end-user, the global market for reclaimed rubber is segmented by automotive and aircraft tires, retreading, belts and hoses, footwear, molded rubber goods, and others.
The automotive and aircraft tires segment owns the highest market and is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 10.3% during the forecast period. The demand for aircraft tires has increased due to the expansion of the international logistics industry and the loosening of travel restrictions on a regional and national level. Numerous aviation companies do not purchase tires but have contracts with tire manufacturing companies. Retreading is a common practice for aircraft tires due to their high cost. Tire companies such as Dunlop Tires provide aviation companies with tire retreading services under the supervision of airworthiness authorities like the EASA and FAA. Thus, the surging aviation industry and the high cost of aircraft tire replacement are expected to positively impact the market.
Additionally, the automotive segment witnessed an increasing utilization of rubber with the rise in the production of heavy-duty commercial vehicles and passenger cars due to rising demand from logistics and private travel opportunities offered by mobility companies like Uber. Vehicular weight regulations and standardization of emission norms are anticipated to boost the demand for energy-efficient automobiles, which is expected to drive the demand for reclaimed rubber in manufacturing automotive tires.
Footwear is a part of consumer fashion trends and is available in sports, casual, and formal categories. The footwear is made of EPDM rubber, styrene-butadiene rubber, natural rubber, and reclaimed rubber. Reclaimed rubbers such as whole tire reclaim and EPDM reclaim provide better abrasion resistance, high tensile strength, and good resistance to flex fatigue. Due to rising consumer spending and increased disposable income, footwear companies are introducing new products to tap the growing footwear market. In addition, rubber prices influence the footwear market, as rubber is required in the manufacture of soles. The footwear market has witnessed an increasing number of rubber sole manufacturers, which is expected to create strong competition. The strong market competition is expected to encourage sole shoe manufacturers to formulate appropriate tire reclaimed rubber and rubber raw materials to reduce costs and seek greater profits.
The global reclaimed rubber market is bifurcated based on region into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Central and South America, and the Middle East and Africa.
North America is the most significant global reclaimed rubber market shareholder and is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 10.3% during the forecast period. North America is the largest importer of rubber tires and one of the major importers of rubber owing to high demand for the product from the automotive, aviation, construction, and electrical sectors. The North American automotive industry is influenced by the surging popularity of electric vehicles and the establishment of manufacturing bases by global automobile manufacturers in Mexico, which is expected to drive the market for rubber tires and influence the growth of the reclaimed rubber.
Additionally, product launches by various market players drive the global market. For instance, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Corporation, an American tire manufacturer, and Rubber-Cal, a producer of rubber flooring and mats, partnered to create a new range of rubber flooring and mats in January 2020. The ReUz rubber flooring rolls and tiles are created from used Goodyear tires, which require less energy during production and can easily be colored, resulting in floors with appealing textures suitable for use in fitness facilities. Consumers' increasing interest in physical fitness is predicted to increase demand for rubber floor mats, which will directly influence the expansion of the reclaimed rubber market.
Europe is estimated to exhibit a CAGR of 10.02% over the forecast period. The reclaimed rubber market size in Europe is expected to grow during the forecast period owing to several initiatives, like the BlackCycle project undertaken in the region. The BlackCycle project, funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 program and launched in May 2020, aims to develop and optimize a full value chain of reclaimed rubber from end-of-life feedstocks such as tire waste to secondary raw materials (SRM) for the creation of a new line of tires for trucks and passenger vehicles to be commercially sold in the European and international markets.
In addition, landfill bans have existed for decades in several European countries, like France, Denmark, Germany, and Austria, due to growing environmental concerns associated with it. High landfill tipping fees, dumping tariffs, waste management prices, and landfill closing costs have also encouraged the European population to switch to recycled products. This scenario encourages the involvement of the European population in collecting and recycling rubber scraps, thereby positively impacting the growth of the reclaimed rubber market in Europe.
Asia-Pacific countries like China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, India, and Japan are expected to become the main growing markets for recovered rubber due to their massive tire production. The output of the automobile industry in China and India has recently increased due to technology transfer from Western markets. This development will likely increase demand for rubber tires and impact the reclaimed rubber industry. In addition, the footwear market in Asia-Pacific is seeing an upward trend due to the growing population and urbanization. Many tire manufacturers in the Asia-Pacific region are working with footwear manufacturers to create footwear made of used tires to capitalize on this expanding trend and further their sustainability objectives. For instance, in September 2021, South Korea-based tire manufacturing company, Hankook Tire & Technology Co., collaborated with YASE to launch eco-friendly shoes made with used tires. Such collaborations are expected to provide a required push to the reclaimed rubber industry over the forecast period.
Central and South American economies rely heavily on mining, agriculture, and the automobile industry. Chile, which is known globally for the mining of copper, coal, and nitrate, has several regulations implemented for the proper handling of tire waste. Under the current environmental rules, the Government of Chile aims to recycle 100% of my vehicles' tires with wheels with rims measuring 45 inches or more. It also aims to recycle 90% of all tires except solid and bicycle tires, which undergo the shredding process and can be used as feedstocks for reclaimed rubber manufacturing. The flourishing mining industry in Central and South America is expected to create opportunities for retreading mining tires, thereby fueling the growth of the reclaimed rubber market in the region.
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