Posted on 1/13/2021

Advanced recycling, circular economy can benefit Industry 4.0 and the environment

Don DeMallie

As our nation contends with waste and its environmental impacts, the business community, especially those who are part of Industry 4.0 here in Michigan, is stepping up and doing its part to promote circularity, a model through which we’re finding effective ways of recycling and reusing products again and again. Along with reducing the amount of waste that ends up in our landfills, this could also prove cost-effective for businesses.

Traditionally, it has been difficult to recycle rubber at the end of its life cycle. But at Great Lakes Rubber, we have expanded our sustainable rubber product lines which use between 48% and 51% repurposed rubber, and have successfully developed an effective system that is contributing to the circular economy. Not only does this sustainable rubber reduce unnecessary landfilling, but it lowers greenhouse gas emissions and is less expensive compared to virgin compounds.

Through repurposed rubber from tires and other products, we can create a variety of new products, such as lawn mower parts, liftgate bumpers for SUVs and even toilet plungers. Reducing our environmental footprint is important to us because it affects not only our local community, but also impacts and supports the efforts of other communities across our country and around the world. Additionally nanotechnology is being assessed to enhance our “green” rubber offerings to further expand and accelerate their applicability and use.  That’s why we are ambitious and creative when it comes to developing new, cutting-edge technologies that are revolutionizing our ability to reduce waste through circularity while generating savings for our business and our customers.

This effort could be further amplified across the state. Currently, the state legislature is considering House Bills 5812-5817. Should these measures ultimately pass, they will help promote a more sustainable approach to materials management while increasing statewide access to recycling services and promote greater use of advanced recycling technologies.

From a broader perspective, Michigan’s manufacturers have an incredible opportunity to establish themselves as leaders in promoting and driving forward the circular economy.  Ultimately, I believe that as circularity becomes the norm in Michigan, it will translate into long-term success and returns on investment for Industry 4.0 businesses, while promoting a cleaner environment for generations to come.

About the Author

Don DeMallie | Great Lakes Rubber Company

Don DeMallie is the president of Great Lakes Rubber Company, a full service custom rubber molding company based in Wixom. In this role Don has expanded their conservation and sustainability activities by proactively developing and marketing sustainable products. Don holds a BSME, MSME and MBA from the University of Michigan. He is a member of Automation Alley, the Association for Rubber Products Manufacturers (ARPM), American Chemical Society (ACS) and the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG). Additionally he is a board member for the Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy helping to protect and preserve our natural resources.


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