How Sustainable Is Rubber Flooring?

In terms of sustainability, rubber flooring as a material is eco-friendly, recycleable with a low impact on the environment.  As there are different ways of producing rubber products, we look at the differences in the main types of material and how modern practices such as recycling rubber can have a huge impact on our eco-system.

In this article we look at:-

  • The Main Types of Rubber Flooring and How they are Manufactured
  • How Sustainable is Rubber Flooring?

 

 

Find out why rubber flooring is the go-to option across several industries such as fitness, sport, utilities, education and healthcare.

What are the Main Types of Rubber Flooring?

Rubber flooring products can be broken down to into two main types, Natural Rubber flooring or Synthetic/Recycled Rubber flooring.

Natural Rubber Flooring

Natural Rubber Latex - Partners in Chemicals

 

Natural rubber is derived from latex which is extracted from the trunk of the Hevea Plant and made into various products from rubber bands and car tires to swimming caps and surgeon gloves.  The substance is extremley elastic, tensible and versatile which is why it is utilised in so many different capacities.  This type of rubber flooring is more expensive to manufacture and less durable than synthetic rubber or recycled rubber flooring which is why so many industries opt for the latter.

Synthetic and Recycled Rubber Flooring

 

 

When we refer to synthetic rubber flooring we are describing rubber that has been formulated in a plant with other components to create a high quality product that can withstand heavy loads, adverse weather and continuous use.  Similarly, recycled rubber flooring is usually a mix of SBR and EPDM rubber granules fabricated from truck tires and a polymer resin.  This then produces rubber tiles, mats and rolls suited to a number of applications. Popular uses are fitness tiles, playground surfaces, safety flooring and horse mats.

 

Types of Synthetic Rubber Flooring

 

 

Common types of Synthetic rubber are SBR (Styrene Butadiene Rubber), EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer), Nitrile, Neoprene and Silicone.  Gym flooring rolls, fitness mats and playground rubber tiles are usually a mixture of both SBR and EPDM as these components result in very resilient, high density and heavy duty surface strength.

 

How Sustainable is Rubber Flooring?

Ecologically-Friendly Rubber Flooring Options

 

Both natural and synthetic rubber is environmentally-kind.  Natural rubber is an organic substance, a renewable source which is biodegradeable and will decompose over time. 

Both types can be recycled to produce other rubber products, reducing landfill and it's overall carbon footprint.  A good example of this is truck tires which now make the majority of rubber flooring products we use today.

Similarly, when we recycle rubber, we cut down on the harvesting and new production of rubber which significantly modifies energy use.

 

What is Tire Recycling and How To Do It?

 

Increasingly, rubber manufacturing plants are continously looking at ways to produce rubber that is more sustainable, however,  science, technology and economic factors will determine how quickly these enhancements take shape and drive significant change.

Final Thoughts

Rubber is in high demand and the material is used globally to produce a wide range of consumables, some more necessary than others.  Due to the expense and social impact of harvesting natural rubber, modern manufacturers of synethic rubber are beginning to develop more sustainable supply chains as well as recycling rubber to reduce carbon emission. Recycled rubber flooring is the most sustainable and is becoming increasingly popular, particularly in sports and recreation, industrial buildings and playground facilities.  Like most materials, there is always room for greater sustainability with rubber flooring being no different.

March 31, 2022 — Katie McKay