Digital technology key to future of rubber recycling

Businesses, including those in rubber, need to be aware of their impact on the environment now more than ever, Klean Industries Inc. CEO Jesse Klinkhamer believes.

Compared to materials such as paper, metal and even plastics, rubber is more challenging to collect and recycle thanks to the material’s properties as well as the form of its most ubiquitous product—the tire.

“We live in what we believe are unprecedented times, where we have more stringent environmental regulations coming into play. We’ve got distinct corporate social responsibility mandates that corporations are putting into play that both investors and consumers are demanding from their products’ suppliers,” Klinkhamer said during a presentation at the International Tire Exhibition & Conference.

This year’s ITEC, sponsored by Rubber & Plastics News, took place virtually due to COVID-19.

As head of Klean Industries in Vancouver, Klinkhamer said he believes technology will help the rubber industry to better recapture and reuse its waste for higher value applications as sustainability continues to be a growing focus of society.

“So the three E’s of the transition of what’s taking place globally are economy, energy and the environment. All solutions must provide a solid value proposition in that we offer lower energy cost, higher reliability and increased sustainability,” Klinkhamer said.

“Today’s businesses need to consider three basic but very important issues in terms of what they take, what they make and what they waste. And those three things have never been more prominent than they are today.”

Klinkhamer’s company builds projects using gasification, pyrolysis and carbonization technologies to transform materials, including scrap tires, waste plastics and municipal solid waste into energy and commodities.

The company also has developed the KleanLoop platform, described as a decentralized waste management commodities and services exchange, that utilizes the KleanLoop app to collect and store real-time recycling data, the company said.

KleanLoop uses blockchain technology, automated data and artificial intelligence to help connect buyers and sellers on a waste resource trading platform. This platform allows buyers and sellers as well as service providers—transportation companies, for example—to connect through a system that enhances transparency, speed and ease of access, the company said.

“With an increasingly regulated industry, data is the only way we can solve the global waste crisis. The industry needs true and accurate data that we can rely on. It’s critically important that industry becomes more compliant and sustainable, and KleanLoop is the system we need that provides transparency throughout the entire supply chain,” Klinkhamer said in a previous statement.

Klean Industries said it will target the scrap tire market as the initial step for KleanLoop.

“Scrap tires offer a massive opportunity to create a shining example of what a circular economy can look like using a specific and problematic waste stream that is highly abundant, self-sorting and is in desperate need of a more open and transparent recycling solution,” he said. “Scrap tires are the perfect poster child.”

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