It is generally known that natural resources worldwide decrease as consumption increases. Despite this knowledge, more than 300 million car tires are discarded in Europe annually. Åke Paulsson, CEO of Ecorub, saw the waste as a future resource and developed the technology that converts polymeric waste into a new and technically advanced hybrid material called TPRR.
In an interview with Tony Rönnqvist, marketing manager at Ecorub, we learn that the establishment of Ecorub in Skellefteå is related to the fact that there is a very large knowledge bank for rubber and plastic technology in local companies and that knowledge is the most important ingredient for Ecorub in various collaborative projects.
What does the abbreviation TPRR mean?
“TPRR stands for Thermo Plastic Recycled Rubber, a hybrid material that has a great advantage in that it can be formed using existing tools with conventional methods – completely without expensive adaptations of the existing machine park. Usually at a lower price than using conventional materials”.
Is TPRR a new product on the market?
“No, certainly not. It has taken us over 20 years to punch the myth that recycled rubber and plastic cannot be mixed into new, fully-fledged materials for the production of technologically advanced products. One can say that the expression, “No prophet is welcome in his home town”, is true in our case. Our history shows that the American market that has kept our technology alive, that is where the TPRR materials are used. In the European market, TPRR is still an unknown material. The starting point for us was May 2018, in connection with the purchase of a workshop of 6500 sqm in Hökmark, Skellefteå. In September 2018 we started installing our machines and in December we were contacted by a company in Romania who wants to manufacture ground sheets of TPRR for installation in ducts and ponds. Inquiries have continued to roll in and the latest came from a large machine manufacturer in Germany who wants to use TPRR for the manufacture of various machine details, so the interest in the European market has grown faster than we expected”.
How is TPRR produced?
“Recycled rubber, plastics, plant fibers, minerals are ground to powder in different grain sizes. Then our binders are added, which gives the so unique molecular bond between the materials in our mixtures. With the help of specially designed machines, the materials are then kneaded to a solid mass which is then processed into the pellets we supply for, for example, injection molding, or for the manufacture of cloths and sheets”.
Which industries are you targeting?
”All. It almost always starts with a forward-looking person who, for some reason, asks if it is possible to manufacture a certain detail using TPRR. We look at the conditions and then produce a material that is adapted to the product and needs. It doesn’t have to be more difficult than that. For example, we were contacted a few years ago by a boat manufacturer asking if TPRR could be used as a slip guard instead of the materials that were used in their boats. This question resulted in the pre-glued anti-slip mat which is now sold to many industrial applications. This is exactly why we do not follow our industrial colleagues or focus on specific industries, as we then would lose the business opportunities that lead us forward”, Tony Rönnqvist concludes.