Like for ropes, the first rubbers used in the outdoors where natural rubbers. Synthetic rubbers have since a long time taken the place of the natural rubbers. Despite their technical performance, synthetic rubbers are not recyclable. They belong to the category of the thermosets, polymers that once they have reached their final shape, cannot be reshaped again. At the end of their lifecycle, the only possibility is to grind them and add them as an additive to e.g. concrete or to burn them. On top of that, during their lifespan, they produce due to the wear and tear small microplastic parts that stay in the environment and in the end flow to our seas and oceans. Did you know that the wear and tear of rubber tyres is the second largest source of these microplastics and that they represent a yearly spill of 0,5Mt ?
Could we make a substitute for this rubber that is both recyclable and degradable ?