The recycling of rubber has been a problem for some time, most noticeably in terms of vehicle tyres that seemingly cannot be easily re-processed, but nor can they be burned due to toxic emissions. However, due to the environmental implications of this situation a great deal of research is carried out in this field, whether it be finding alternative uses for recycled/reclaimed rubber, or methods of devulcanisation (depolymerisation) – processing the vulcanised rubber back to the non-polymerised monomer state so that it may be used again. In actual fact it turns out that recycling rubber has a great many advantages, as researched by Intermediate Technology Development Group (www.itdg.org). These include the fact that recycled/reclaimed rubber can be as little as half the price of new natural or synthetic rubber, partly due to the lower levels of energy required for processing. There are also advantages in the form of the conservation of the feedstock of natural petroleum products required to manufacture new synthetic rubber and also, surprisingly, some improved properties from recycled rubber.
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