A green route for rubber in Maastricht

Rubber Resources along the Schoenerweg in Maastricht collects and recycles rubber waste to make new raw materials. These are then processed in, for example, car tyres and sports floors, or as general manager Chantal Bulten puts it: "We turn a biscuit into dough again.” The company has been based in Maastricht for decades, but since 2011 it has been part of ELGI, an Indian parent company. Most of the 65 employees come from Maastricht and the surrounding area.

In addition to being a manager, Chantal is also a mother, an avid mountain walker and an athlete. She takes her enthusiastic attitude and positive outlook on life with her to work. For many years, she enjoyed working as an HR manager for the company, but when she was asked by the shareholders to work as general manager, it was too big a challenge to ignore.

Greener than you think

One man's trash is another man's treasure. Rubber Resources collects rubber waste for devulcanisation. In other words, breaking the chains (sulphur bridges) between the elastomers of rubber, which have been created by vulcanisation. What sets Rubber Resources apart is that they do not use any chemicals in this process. The technology used to heat the materials does result in a high energy bill, but the savings for the environment are significant: more than 11,000 trees per year do not need to be felled. "We are at the forefront of sustainability," says Chantal, "but unfortunately we are often wrongly given the negative stamp associated with rubber recycling. You may have heard negative reports about artificial turf production, but we are not involved in such processes." In fact, Rubber Resources is taking big steps with the automotive industry to try to achieve a circular economy. "Most of our material is used to make car tyres. If we can buy up our customers' waste, we will have succeeded.”

Heavy industry

Due to the construction of the Noorderbrug bridge, Rubber Resources faced the enormous challenge of relocating their plant in 2014. They turned to the Municipality of Maastricht's Business Contact Centre for advice, which helped them find their current location. Chantal is very enthusiastic about the support they received. "They really thought constructively about the logistic issues we ran into." The new location is a great success. The accessibility is fantastic and the production facility is three times the size of the former unit. “The relocation was a financial burden: €16.5 million to restart production. You are dealing with heavy industry and the safety measures are strict."

Towards an energy-neutral Maastricht

Rubber Resources has experienced the strength of the Business Contact Centre and is once again working with them to set up further projects. "They don't have answers to all the questions, but they do know how to send you to the right people." For example, via Podium 24 they brought in a retiree who takes care of their coffee machines. "It's a nice service from the municipality that I can recommend to every entrepreneur, big or small." Chantal brainstormed with the Business Contact Centre as recently as two weeks ago. No long ago, Rubber Resources endorsed the Maastricht Energy Agreement (MEA) with the aim of contributing to an energy-neutral Maastricht. "Together with the municipality, we are looking at ways of tackling local waste flows. That starts on a small scale, but it could have a major impact later on."