Rubber Raw Materials – Focussing on Security of Supply

"Diminishing natural rubber prices and well working supply with rubber raw materials are at a first glance drawing a picture of an overall relaxed situation,"Boris Engelhardt, Secretary General of the German Rubber Industry Association (wdk, Wirtschaftsverband der deutschen Kautschukindustrie e. V.) stated on June 27th 2016 in Dusseldorf, on the occasion of the K 2016 preview. Restrictively Engelhardt observed, gin deeper detail however there are developments rubber industry has to keep an eye on."

One element of the overall positive raw material situation is the constant decline of natural rubber prices in the past, which now consolidate at a reasonable level. Engelhardt remarked additionally: “The sustainable reduction of crude oil prices led to a relief of raw material costs for synthetic rubber and carbon blacks. A slighter relief was also experienced by rubber converters.”

“Despite of the positive general picture“, Engelhardt said, “it can’t be ignored that we have to consider a substantial cutback of raw material capacities in Europe. The closing of Marl EPDM site, the end of carbon black production in Hannover and the announced shut down of the carbon black facility in Ambès (France) just in the running year is not simply a loss of capacities. In most cases it means simultaneously a loss of specific grades and raw material qualities too.”

In this respect Engelhardt pointed out that ”the resulting effort to be made for the necessary modification of rubber compounds, additional testing procedures and approvals are challenging rubber industry from a technical point of view and from an economic perspective as well.”

The third and last registration phase for chemicals according to the EU Chemical Regulation REACh, with the deadline 31st of May 2018, might become thrilling to a certain extent. “In particular producers of general rubber goods have no sufficient evidence whether suppliers of small volume chemicals will actually go for registration at the European Chemical Agency ECHA”, Engelhardt described the current situation. “Especially chemicals designed for applications in the rubber sector are used in small quantities and they are essential for the production of technically advanced rubber articles,” Engelhardt emphasised. Therefore he reminded: “An open exchange of information in the production chain is vital to avoid any confusion and short term occurring interruption in the supply chain.”

Finally Engelhardt said:” There are indications that in the near future raw material prices in general will most probably move sidewise.”


Wirtschaftsverband der deutschen Kautschukindustrie (wdk)