News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

December 13, 2018

Continental Opens Research Laboratory for Dandelion Rubber

Filed under: Rubber, Tires — Notch @ 2:52 pm

Continental A.G. has inaugurated its laboratory in Anklam, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany, for research into the production of rubber from the Russian dandelion, one year after breaking ground on the 323,000-sq.-ft. facility.

The Taraxagum Lab Anklam, which represents an investment of nearly $40 million, is dedicated to the study of dandelion rubber farming and extraction methods, working toward producing an alternative to traditional rubber tree plantations in the tropics.

Nikolai Setzer, a member of the Continental board and head of its Tire division, noted that the company intends to use dandelion rubber routinely within the next 10 years. The ultimate goal, he added, is for Taraxagum-branded products to meet a significant part of the company’s natural rubber requirement.

“We see Russian dandelion as an important alternative and complement to conventional natural rubber from hevea brasiliensis to allow us to meet rising global demand in an environmentally compatible and reliable way,” Mr. Setzer said.

Read the full press release here.

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November 26, 2018

Sumitomo adopts sustainable natural rubber policy

Filed under: Rubber — Notch @ 8:30 pm

Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd. recently announced its participation in the launch of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR). As a founding member of GPSNR, the Sumitomo Rubber Group has also established its own “Sustainable Natural Rubber Policy” with the aim of making natural rubber a sustainable resource for the future. The establishment of this new platform, which aims to set global standards for sustainable natural rubber, was initiated by the CEOs of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Tire Industry Project (TIP) in November of 2017 and finalized with a launch event held in Singapore on October 25, 2018.

Sumitomo’s Sustainable Natural Rubber Policy is founded on the following six principles:

1. Zero Deforestation & Environmental Considerations (Reducing Our Environmental Footprint)
2. Respecting Human Rights
3. Ensuring Thorough Compliance
4. Enhancing Transparency & Traceability (The ability to clearly trace the natural rubber supply chain (place of origin, distribution channels, etc.)
5. Improving Agricultural Productivity (Supporting Natural Rubber Supply Chains on the Upstream Side)
6. Promoting Health & Safety Considerations

October 19, 2018

Yokohama launches procurement policy for sustainable rubber

Filed under: Rubber, Tires — Notch @ 10:31 am

Yokohama Rubber has launched a new procurement policy aimed at sourcing rubber more sustainably, amid concerns around deforestation in southern Asia where it is farmed.

The policy outlines how the company will source natural rubber without causing deforestation or harming biodiversity.

The policy also calls on suppliers to do the same, but adds that the company would take steps to support them in doing this, such as promoting the latest efficient farming techniques and investing in initiatives to search for materials which could replace natural rubber.

The company said it was participating in the Sustainable Natural Rubber Initiative, an inter-governmental organization made up of rubber producers and consumer stakeholders, which aims to fight unsustainable rubber farming.

Of the world’s natural rubber resources, 90 percent is farmed from trees in forests between India and Vietnam, as well as in southern China and Indonesia, according to WWF.

Yokohama said that growth in demand in recent years has “increased concerns about a host of problems, including unlawful deforestation, land exploitation, human rights violations and adverse effects on biodiversity.”

October 9, 2018

Synthetic rubber prices likely to remain volatile

Filed under: Rubber, Rubber Chemicals — Notch @ 10:04 am

Prices for synthetic rubber and petrochemical feedstocks have been “incredibly volatile” and are likely to remain so for a while, according to Bill Hyde, executive director-olefins and elastomers at IHS Markit, a speaker at the International Tire Exhibition & Conference in Akron Sept. 11-13. “Energy- and economy-related fundamentals in the synthetic rubber market are encouraging, but risks abound,” he said.

Meanwhile, natural rubber pricing is largely to remain soft because of oversupply and the need for small farmers to keep on earning a living, according to Hyde.

Spokespersons for various industry sectors generally agreed with Hyde, especially in his assertion that ethylene is the main driver of pricing in the petrochemical and SR world.

“Ethylene is the center of the petrochemical universe,” he said. “It has a lot of co-products, most importantly butadiene. Ninety percent of all the butadiene produced in the world is a co-product of ethylene.”

Read more here.

February 8, 2018

Thailand asks farmers to cut down rubber trees to boost prices

Filed under: Rubber — Notch @ 10:59 pm

Thailand, the world’s largest rubber producer and exporter, has launched a program to encourage farmers to cut down rubber trees earlier than the 25-year life cycle to reduce total annual output by 5 percent by the end of April, in a bid to support falling rubber prices.

To reach the target, the Thai government has earmarked 80 billion baht ($2.5 billion) to compensate those who participate in the program, which is not mandatory.

Thailand has previously used similar “cut-down” measures in coordination with Indonesia and Malaysia, the second- and third-biggest rubber producers in the world, respectively, but the policies were backed up only by verbal interventions, rather than specific action, and failed to have a major impact on prices.

Narongsak Jaisamut, director of the Rubber Authority of Thailand’s Production Development Department told the Nikkei Asian Review on Wednesday that the government will offer farmers 4,000 baht per rai (or 0.16 hectare) to rev up the plan to cut down rubber trees.

“We target to cut as much as 50% of 400,000 rai a year by the first quarter of this year. That would help cut supply by 5% and should help support price,” Narongsak said.

An excessive supply of rubber at a time when global consumption has been weak has dragged down the price of benchmark export grade rubber sheet to around $1.70 a kilogram. The government also plans to spend an additional 3 billion baht to pay farmers to cut down rubbers trees covering an additional 300,000 rai, or 48,000 hectares, by the end of this year. However, that plan has yet to be approved by the Thai cabinet, according to an official at the Rubber Authority of Thailand. Narongsak said the additional measure is expected to cut rubber supply by 20 percent this year and help support prices.

Apart from the measure to cut down rubber trees, the government is promoting their use in other ways in order to help create added value.

Referenced article found here.

Bridgestone announces new global sustainable procurement policy

Filed under: Rubber, Tires — Notch @ 10:19 pm

Bridgestone has announced a new Global Sustainable Procurement Policy to help identify and evaluate qualified suppliers, promote best practices, and serve as a communication and improvement tool for the industry. The policy is applicable to all purchased materials and services, as well as all suppliers globally.

Guided by Bridgestone’s “Our Way to Serve,” the new policy aligns with Bridgestone’s goal of using 100% sustainable materials* in our products as the long-term vision by 2050 and beyond. It combines previous company guidelines into a single document that sets minimum requirements to conduct business with Bridgestone, as well as preferred practices that can contribute to faster realization of sustainable supply chains. As a large user of natural rubber, the policy describes Bridgestone’s expectations with respect to critical issues within the complex global natural rubber supply chain. An extensive document, the policy addresses four major areas of focus:

• Transparency – including traceability and good governance;

• Compliance – adhering to laws and regulations in the countries and regions in which Bridgestone conducts business;

• Quality, Cost and Delivery (QCD) & Innovation – ensuring high quality materials and services are delivered on time and at reasonable costs, while also pursuing innovative technologies that support improvements across global communities;

• Sustainable Procurement Practices – incorporating environmentally responsible procurement, such as compliance with environmental laws and regulations, respect for human rights, water use, land use and conservation, health, safety, disaster prevention and resilience.

*The Bridgestone Group defines sustainable materials as materials that “1) that come from resources with a guaranteed continual supply, 2) that can be used as part of our business over the long-term, and 3) that have a low environmental and social impact over the lifecycle from procurement to disposal.”

Read the full press release here.

January 30, 2018

World Rubber Summit 2018

Filed under: Conferences, Rubber — Notch @ 12:49 pm

Registration is now open for the ISRG World Rubber Summit 2018. IRSG in collaboration with the Ministry of Plantation Industries of the Government of Sri Lanka will host the World Rubber Summit (WRS) on 7-8 May 2018, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The World Rubber Summit is an unique and exclusive opportunity for the global rubber industry to discuss the current challenges that the industry is facing but also the future opportunities that might arise from the disruptive trends that are transforming the automotive industry and the extensive use of innovative solutions to improve rubber quality and productivity.

This Summit will bring together some 300 delegates from around the world, granting enormous networking and information sharing opportunities to attendees. The WRS 2018 will be combined with the IRSG’s inter-government and industry meetings.

For more information and to register for the World Rubber Summit 2018, visit the conference website.

January 4, 2018

Pirelli and Nizhnekamskneftekhim ink agreement of cooperation

Filed under: Rubber — Notch @ 3:38 pm

Pirelli has signed a contract with synthetic rubber maker Nizhnekamskneftekhim to establish supply in 2018. The delegates from the Republic of Tatarstan and Pirelli’s representatives met in December in Milan to discuss cooperation in synthetic rubbers business and signed a new contract.

The Russian firm signed a similar agreement to provide synthetic rubber to Michelin in June 2017.

Read Nizhnekamskneftekhim’s press release here.

September 21, 2017

Cabot Opens Asia Technology Center in Shanghai

Filed under: Carbon Black, Rubber — Notch @ 12:51 pm

On September 14, Cabot Corporation officially opened its new Asia technology center on the campus of its regional headquarters in Shanghai.

The nearly 48,500-sq.-ft. technology center will enhance Cabot’s application development capabilities and will provide a “collaboration platform to deliver innovative solutions” to customers throughout Asia Pacific.

Bringing together approximately 30 researchers and scientists from all of Cabot’s businesses, the lab will support Cabot product lines including rubber and specialty carbons, fumed metal oxides, masterbatch and compounds, activated carbon and inkjet colorants with testing and development capabilities that closely represent Cabot’s customer applications.

“This investment in China is strategically important to our ability to deliver on our vision and goal of driving application innovation with our customers by developing solutions that deliver advanced performance,” President and CEO Sean Keohane said.

Read the full press release here.

March 11, 2015

Lanxess may spin off synthetic rubber business

Filed under: Rubber — Notch @ 6:05 am

Tire Business reports that Lanxess A.G. is holding talks with potential partners regarding the formation of alliances or joint ventures for its synthetic rubber business. The firm is evaluating different strategic options for its SR business, according to a company spokesperson. The restructuring is part of the company’s “Let’s Lanxess Again” initiative. This stage of the initiative will include the examination of competitive alliances to improve access to raw materials and will be executed in 2015 and 2016.

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