Rubber & Latex Environmental Impacts | KEP

Environmental Impacts in the Rubber & Elastomer Industry

As a rubber manufacturer, KEP is committed to environmental sustainability. We have taken concrete steps to maintain harmony between nature and our business practices.

Rubber improves lives across the globe. Popular uses in the industry include everything from sturdy shoe soles to automotive tires that keep us moving and exploring – all the way to Attenuation Gloves and rubber tubing for medical devices manufactured by KEP.  KEP’s green business practices are built into the way we manufacture rubber, allowing us to support these human endeavors while also caring for the planet. 

Is Rubber Biodegradable? Natural vs Synthetic Rubber

As a manufacturer of elastomer products, our environmental impact starts with the materials that we use. When assessing if a material is an environmentally friendly choice, biodegradability is often a main part of the conversation. The answer to the question “is rubber biodegradable or not?” goes beyond a simple yes or no. The answer depends on the type of rubber – natural versus synthetic. 

Natural Rubber

Natural rubber, like most commonly-used natural polymers and fibers, is biodegradable under the proper conditions. However, the higher the molecular weight of a polymer, the more slowly the polymer degrades after being discarded. Since natural rubber has a very high molecular weight, it tends to break down slowly in natural conditions.

These natural conditions allow natural rubber to break down due to bacteria that are widely distributed throughout water, soil and sewage. There are also techniques that can speed up the degradation of rubber by creating an ideal environment for its breakdown. 

Synthetic Rubber

Natural rubber comes from plants, making it a natural polymer. Synthetic rubber, on the other hand, is made up of man-made petroleum-based monomers. So, is silicone rubber environmentally friendly? Their man-made monomers make them more resistant to microbial attack, meaning they are unlikely to break down in nature. If biodegradability is an important factor for your business, natural rubber latex might be better suited for your product.

Kent Elastomer Products Green Business Practices

Our dedication to the planet doesn’t stop at manufacturing natural rubber latex products. KEP has also taken measures to increase the environmental sustainability of our facilities. Since 2007, we have reduced our water usage by 47% and electricity usage by 10%, even in the midst of company growth. We also reduced our number of dumpster pickups dramatically, from 804 per year to only 182. In 2015, KEP’s Kent and Winesburg facilities also received the Gold Level Environmental Excellence Award from Ohio EPA for reaching the highest standard of environmental stewardship.

As producers of natural rubber latex, we are deeply committed to continuing on the road of sustainability. Our product comes from the earth, and we have a duty to protect and preserve it in return. 

Click here to learn more about KEP’s green business practices. 

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