Rubber is a thermo-set plastic which means it cannot be recycled. It is generally shredded at end of life into a “crumb” which is used for shock absorption in flooring (e.g. in playgrounds) or used as insulation.
Think of rubber and you probably think of elastic bands, car tires, or pencil erasers. But this super-stretchy material actually finds its way into tens of thousands of different products—everything from rubber stamps and waterproof shoes to surfing wetsuits, swimming caps, and dishwasher hoses. Rubber, which has been commonly used for over 1000 years, once came entirely from natural sources; now rubber products are just as likely to be made artificially in chemical plants.
That’s largely because we can’t produce enough natural rubber to meet all our needs. And that, in turn, is because rubber is so fantastically useful. Let’s take a closer look at one of the world’s most amazing materials!
Upcycling bicycle tyres – ECOStep Design Competition entry
“There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.”
– Annie Leonard, Proponent of Sustainability