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  Business Times 12 Sep 07
Watch 'green rubber' bounce back to life soon

by Matthew Phan

GREEN Rubber Global (GRG), a Malaysian company that counts Hollywood stars Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis among its shareholders, could soon be making waves in the global rubber industry with technology that recycles rubber from old tyres.

The process, called De-Link, can devulcanise and revulcanise rubber compounds to create 'Green Rubber', which can then be used to make various new rubber products, from vehicle tyres to shoe soles.

It was developed by the late Dr B C Sekhar, who was the first Asian director of the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia and who is regarded as the father of the country's modern rubber industry. His son, Vinod Sekhar, founded GRG to commercialise the technology in 1996.

A unit of Malaysian conglomerate Petra Group, GRG is now seeking a listing on London's Alternative Investment Market and is expected to be worth at least £pounds;130 million (S$402 million) when it lists within six months, Mr Sekhar said yesterday.

GRG also said it is entering a joint venture with US rubber product manufacturer Apache Mills to manufacture and sell rubber compounds made from recycled waste tyres.

The world generates one billion waste tyres every year, most of which are disposed of in landfills or elsewhere, or are burnt as fuel.

Art Wildstein, CEO of Apache Mills, said he was amazed when the technology was shown to work. He had been sceptical at first, as over the years the rubber industry had heard many claims about processes which allowed rubber to be devulcanised - and all had been shown to be false.

But Apache has tested the process and used it to make some commercially viable products, he said.

'It offers a truly transformational opportunity.' Mr Sekhar also said his technology will not threaten established rubber plantations, as there is so much demand for rubber that the industry's output will not be enough to meet demand from even China alone within years.

Manufacturers can now use rubber without worrying about its long-term sustainability, because it can be recycled over and over again with De-Link, he said.

Related articles in Singapore: reduce, reuse, recycle
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