Dr K Rajkumar, Director, Indian Rubber Manufacturers Research Association (IRMRA), has highlighted the significant role played by IRMRA in the fields of Circular Economy and Green Chemistry.
He was delivering a talk on ‘Circular Economy Thinking: Challenges and Opportunities in Rubber Industrial Chemistry’ at a two-day second International Conference on Chemistry, Industry and Environment organised by the Department of Applied Chemistry, Zakir Husain College of Engineering and Technology (ZHCET), Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh.
Dr Rajkumar pointed out that IRMRA has developed a new bio-based additive for the rubber industry. This is a very complex natural polymer with many random couplings, composed of different groups and many possible bonding patterns between individual units. It can be used either for partial or total replacement of some hazardous ingredients.
Experiments were done using IBMA-16 in nitrile rubber. The objective is to replace accelerators and curing agents, plasticizers, antioxidants and fillers, he said.
Dr Rajkumar defined Circular Economy as an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.
“In simpler terms, a circular economy seeks to replace today’s linear approach to resources, in which materials are made into products, the products are used and then the materials are thrown away. Therefore, a circular economy aims to continuously keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value,” he said.
Green Chemistry concept
Talking on `Green Chemistry’, Dr Rajkumar said: Essentially, Green Chemistry means preventing pollution before it happens rather than cleaning up the mess later. Green Chemistry is the utilisation of a set of principles that reduces or eliminates the use or generation of hazardous substances in the design, manufacture and application of chemical products.
“Through the practice of Green Chemistry, we can create alternatives to hazardous substances. We can design chemical processes that reduce waste and reduce demand on diminishing resources. The concept of green chemistry was developed in the business and regulatory communities as a natural evolution of pollution prevention initiatives,” he added.
The United States formed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1970, which was charged with protecting human and environmental health through setting and enforcing environmental regulations. Green Chemistry takes the EPA’s mandate a step further and creates a new reality for chemistry and engineering by asking chemists and engineers to design chemicals, chemical processes and commercial products in a way that, at the very least, avoids the creation of toxics and waste, he added.