The European Union has updated its key raw material list (the original version of the 2020 CRM list), and listed natural rubber as one of the biological materials as a key material.
Natural rubber is an indispensable and important raw material for the European tire and rubber industries, and it is also a key driving force for many industries, especially the automotive industry. The tire industry alone absorbs about 76% of all natural rubber produced globally. Today, there is no substitute for rubber tree natural rubber available for all current applications.
The list of key raw materials reaffirms the priority of natural rubber in EU policy and the importance of ensuring a fair and sustainable supply of natural rubber for European industries. It also provides further support for ongoing industry research on alternative sources of natural rubber.
As highlighted in the EU's forward-looking report (part of the list of key raw materials), the EU neither produces nor processes natural rubber. This means that the EU is totally dependent on imports, mainly from Southeast Asia. The biological characteristics and unique characteristics of natural rubber means that it is difficult to substitute alternative sources or auxiliary raw materials, which brings many uncertainties to manufacturers and end users.
Under the framework of the "European Raw Material Innovation Partnership Program" in 2008, the European Tire and Rubber Manufacturers Association (ETRMA) is committed to diversifying the supply of natural rubber: reducing dependence on Southeast Asia and expanding research to alternative sources. Today, more than 20% of the natural rubber used in the European Union comes from Africa, and the industry is studying how to expand the scale of natural rubber from dandelion and guava leaves (plants grown in Europe) to supply both tires and non-tire rubber industries. . However, despite this progress, sustainable procurement of natural rubber remains a challenge.
Fazilet Cinaralp, Secretary-General of ETRMA, said that natural rubber is recognized as an important raw material for the second time and is of great importance to our industry. It confirms the ambition of the European Commission to support industrial diversified supply efforts by stimulating production outside of traditional producing countries and increasing the scalability of natural rubber production by increasing other vegetable latex sources that can be grown in Europe. At the same time, it is hoped that the European Commission will continue to support public and private projects aimed at reducing import dependence on the rubber value chain and develop towards a diversified direction.
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