Burning Rubber Toward Sustainability

We keep saying it, but this is going to be a great year for sustainability. We’re still in awe of how some companies are working magic to keep our planet safe – I mean seriously, who would have ever thought of using mushrooms as packaging materials?? Even on the less tasty side of the spectrum, we’re seeing strides being made to incorporate more natural ingredients into the materials we use every day.

Take a look around your house and you’ll find a lot of rubber. Your car’s tires, your dog’s toys, even the bottom of your boots probably have rubber in them to some degree. No matter where that rubber lives, it’s made from a molecule called butadiene that’s about to get a lot more sustainable.

Three universities across the US put together a research team to invent a “high-yield, low-cost method of manufacturing butadiene,” and the scientific breakthrough comes from Mother Earth. The scientists found a way to create butadiene from renewable resources, including trees and grasses.

Awful pun time: What does a sustainable toddler ride?

Answer: A tricycle, because it’s got TREE WHEELS.

That means everyone from bakers with rubber spatulas to physicians with rubber gloves are going to be leaving less of a carbon footprint than ever. We’ve already seen companies who make rubber products like tires shift away from the material in their long-term efforts to go green, but this discovery might change their plans!

Elsewhere in the industry, Bridgestone is making major investments in keeping rubber naturally made. Synthetic rubbers use a lot of oil to produce, but the natural rubber tree’s future is at risk thanks to instability in Southeast Asia. Bridgestone is hedging its bets on a plant called the guayule, which grows right here in the US. They’ve opened up a research farm in Arizona to make bio-rubber a reality sooner than later.

One other bombshell out of this report is that this process is also expected to impact the plastic industry. The same butadiene that may soon be made from natural components like corn is a major component in hard plastic. We’ve already seen a lot of moving and shaking in the sustainable plastics department lately, but it sounds like things are just getting started!

At Ernest, we know we have a responsibility to our planet to use the most sustainable materials available. We’ve been working to go green long before going green was a thing, and our over-70 year track record can prove it. Whether your packaging incorporates rubber, plastic or any other material, we always strive to deliver it with Mother Earth in mind. Give us a call to see how we can help you make this your greenest year yet.

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