rCB review of 2023

In the December edition of the rCB News newsletter, I am reflecting the year 2023 with regards to recovered carbon black and tire circularity.

rCB review of 2023

Dear colleagues & friends of recovered Carbon Black,

Here is your December dose of recovered Carbon Black news.

In the December edition of the rCB News newsletter, I am reflecting the year 2023 with regards to recovered carbon black and tire circularity.


The year 2023 started with good news from the ASTM International D36 workgroup with a new standard for recovered carbon black testing in green rubber, the ASTM D8491-22 Fourier Transformation Rheology, which now is one of the four key analyses for recovered carbon black.


In February 2023, motivated by the Russian war on Ukraine, the EU placed further sanctions on Russian carbon black producers and defined an allowable import quota until July 1st 2024. The ongoing war is a major contribution to the volatility and risk aversion of financial markets. Monthly imports of Russian carbon black have been at half the normal volume and, at first glance surprisingly, major carbon black consumers have not been worried about carbon black shortages in Europe. The reason for that has been the slow business of the rubber industry in Europe, which has reduced the import requirements of Russian carbon black.


Cabot Corporation introduced its “EVOLVE™ Sustainable Solutions Technology Platform” during Tire Technology Expo in March 2023, for me this is still the most comprehensive sustainability platform in the carbon black industry. I also think that mixtures of recovered carbon blacks with furnace carbon blacks currently are the quickest route to market, although some tire companies seem to dislike this “indirect” route to market. Also in March 2023, I started talking about industry fragility in the recovered carbon black sector.


The Smithers Carbon Black World Conference in April 2023 in China had 350 participants and featured topics around sustainable carbon blacks.

Also in April 2023 was the EuRIC – The European Recycling Industries “Tyre recycling Day: Making the wheel go round” in Brussels, which brought key contacts of the tyre recycling industry together (by the way, the next Tyre Reyccling Day is on 15.04.2024!).

And at the end of April 2023, I broadcasted a Linkedin Live stream with Aatif Ahmed Misbah from Cabot Corporation on the topic of the company’s new EVOLVE™ platform.


The ASTM International D36 workgroup convened again in May and the major output in my opinion was work item WK84831, a groundbreaking proposal for a recovered Carbon Black Classification with just four analyses:

  1. Dispersibility by particle size
  2. Volatile content
  3. Inorganic content
  4. Rubber activity


Although the particle size analysis is still a work item, and although I only know two laboratories in the world capable of these four analyses, I immedially started using this classification system in my client work. This might be the most important technical development for recovered carbon black in 2023. I hope that the work items WK71958 (particle size) and WK84831 (rCB classification) can be confirmed and published very soon.


In June, my colleague Paul Ita at Notch Consulting, Inc. and I published the second edition of our industry reference report “Prospects for recovered Carbon Black 2023“, which still is the only reliable and peer reviewed report on the recovered carbon black and tire pyrolysis industry, including profiles of 24 companies. Paul and I plan the third edition for mid-year 2024 and in future, we might include a kind of “Insider rCB newsletter with pricing information”.

With Smithers and Paul Ita, I ran an online Workshop about “Sustainable Carbon Black” and we interviewed Robert Hanson from Monolith, the first company who broke the carbon black industry paradigm and disrupted the industry with a new process and new, sustainable carbon blacks. Up to now, only Monolith is active on the methane conversion carbon black market, but there are more than 30 peer companies developing methane conversion technology.


In September 2023, the Chinese Tyre Recycling Association (“CTRA”) held “The Third International Cooperation on Tire (rubber) Recycling Conferences and Exhibitions Trade Fair” conference, were I presented for Smithers about recovered carbon black. This was the foundation for bringing the recovered Carbon Black Conference to China in 2024. Stay tuned about this event!

Also in September 2023 were the Sociedad Latinoamericana de Tecnología del Caucho Jornadas de Lima 2023, the key event for everything rubber and rubber recycling in the Latinamerican world. Watch my summary here! On my way to Lima, I visited the construction of the BB&G rCB demo plant in Portugal and the SENAI Institute in Brazil.


In October 2023, the Polish government froze the assets of MAKROchem, a key carbon black distributor and transloader who is also offering recovered carbon black blends with furnace carbon black. This has created supply issues in the rubber industry as many producers have relied on deliveries from Makrochem.


The global key event for our industry was, of course, the Smithersrecovered Carbon Black Industry Conference 2023 with 350+ participants in a very cohesive collaboration spirit. In my opening, I mentioned the lack of investments into the production capabilities for RCB. This topic came also up again in a brillant CEO Panel.

Luckily, just in the week after the event, BASF confirmed a second investment into rCB producer Pyrum Innovations AG.

The EU will put more governance on tire recycling in 2026. Now would be the time for the tire industry and the carbon black industry to get a stratgic stake into circular eco-systems.


I believe the recovered carbon black industry has progressed a lot in 2023:

  • with analysis standards
  • with collaborations (some yet unpublished)
  • with de-risking the business
  • with construction of demonstration units


but there is one major thing missing in the industry. Half of the top 10 rCB producers are struggling financially because they need investments into production assets which then can generate positive cash-flow. CAPEX cost of high tech western rCB production is high. Other companies struggle with investors mingling into and micromanaging business decisions. This might be a chicken & egg problem, but it is very real.

The one thing I wish for Christmas is more investments into the rCB industry.


Thank you for reading. Take care, best wishes from snowy Berlin,


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