Turning waste into profit

The growing quantity of used and waste latex gloves has posed an environmental problem for many years. Following the success of its ultra-fine black carbon filler for PVC and PU resins, low SG Pura Carbon, and Pura Cell, a powdered or granular rubber, PT Pura Agung, an Indonesian specialist in reclaimed rubber, unveiled its latest white reclaimed rubber made of used and waste latex gloves at this year’s Chinaplas event in April, says Lyn Cacha in this report.

“We strive for excellence by continually providing innovative products as well as coming up with solutions that help address the rubber wastage and raw material shortage problem,” said Robert Mulyono Putra, Managing Director and Co-Founder, adding that there is enormous potential for reclamation and reuse of rubber in developing countries such as China.

Pura-rubberPT Pura Agung’s reclaimed white rubber made of recycled latex gloves.

“This reclaimed white rubber is available in a prime grade material. It is odourless and does not contain any harmful processing agents. It can be used for shoe soles and for a wide range of rubber applications,” said Robert, adding that it is easy to use due to its neat packaging that allows for faster compounding.

The rejected and waste latex gloves are sourced locally from glove manufacturers and hospitals. “Producing rubber from reclaim actually requires less energy in the total production process than virgin material,” he added.

The firm uses a patented vulcanised process to produce its materials, unlike the standard devulcanised process. “We also use the latest German technology, assuring a better quality and consistency of our products,” explained Robert.

However, despite the obvious incentives to reduce compounding cost and to conserve raw materials and energy, the use of reclaim rubber constitutes only a very small percentage of raw material consumption. “Contrary to popular belief, reclaimed rubber has some properties that are better than those of virgin rubber,” said Robert.

The company’s products come in Super, Prime and Ecco grades and boast good dispersion ability, surface quality and compression set. Other benefits include lower processing temperature, shorter breakdown in mixing, minimum reversion, ageing properties and improved dimensional stability.

“For the tyre industry, we recommend the Super grade that is widely used in truck tyres and tread rubber. Prime grades are mostly used in automotive tyres, rubber mats and also rubber moulded goods. The Ecco grade is commonly used in rubber belts, sheets, tyres flaps and floor mats.”

Robert explained that the reclaimed rubber products can also be used as alternatives to using conventional fillers, such as calcium carbonate and china clay.

In the business for the past six years, the company is one of the largest manufacturers of reclaimed rubber, crumb rubber, carbon black and carbon filler. According to Robert, the rubber crumb or powder is among the cleanest in the market as it contains less than 1% impurities, with granules available in 3-6 mm sizes.

Located in Surabaya Margomulyo Industrial Area, the company’s first factory spanned 5,000 sq m and had only 50 employees. In 2008, it moved 50 km to the west of Surabaya city and today, the ISO9001-certified facility spans an area of 6 ha with about 250 workers. The company also recently increased its manufacturing capacity to reach 5,000 tonnes/month.

In terms of R&D, Robert said that the firm is looking to further improve the tensile strength, elongation and surface smoothness of its reclaimed rubber products. “We will try our best to serve the demands of all our clients globally.” The company is also developing new products suitable for ship chain stoppers.

It ships about 70% of its total output to overseas markets, including Japan, Columbia, Turkey, Austria, Peru, Czech Republic, India, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, including the legislation-abiding markets of Europe and the US.
“We have supplied our material to many well known tyre brands in Europe so our products have passed the stringent quality requirements of the European market,” concluded Robert.