Homegrown bioelastomers: A sustainable opportunity

It has been estimated that there are 2,500 plants that can produce a natural latex: a bioelastomer. Of course, not all of them can produce a polymeric latex with a high molecular weight, readily processable and commercially viable. To date, three species account for the majority of interest associated and centered
around the discussion of natural latex: Hevea rubber trees (Hevea brasiliensis), guayule (“why-yule-ee,” Parthenium argentatum) and rubber dandelion (Taraxacum kok-saghyz). The rubber tree, typically found in tropical Southeast Asia, produces nearly 90% of the world’s natural latex. Guayule (a desert shrub) and rubber dandelion are plants found in more temperate regions in the U.S., and figure to be potential domestic sources of natural rubber and latex.

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Staying relevant in a changing industry

In previous Rubber World columns, I have discussed the reintroduction of the manufacture of latex gloves back into the U.S. after a 25 year absence. During those years, in Southeast Asia, there have been significant, evolutionary improvements to the equipment, processing, formulations, and the latex itself. The challenge we face is to develop a competitive, sustainable manufacturing capability in the U.S., utilizing some of the personnel who were involved in glove manufacturing years ago, and merging their experience with new ways of thinking and problem solving.

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Latex gloves market forecast with a 9 percent CAGR through 2027

The global latex gloves market is growing profusely since the onset of COVID 19. With the pandemic ever-increasing across the globe, the market demand is rising substantially. The onslaught of the pandemic has still been hovering despite stringent vaccination measures by Governments worldwide. With newer strains emerging regularly, it is expected that the latex gloves market would witness significant traction during the years to come

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The case for reintroducing latex surgical and exam glove production back into the U.S.

The world today uses 12,000 medical gloves per second. Prior to the UP publication, U.S. glove production had been satisfied by a number of medical device manufacturers, namely, Safeskin, Ansell, Aladan, Baxter, Smith & Nephew and Johnson & Johnson. In addition, glove imports in the U.S. prior to 1985 were 1 billion pieces. In 1996, imports exceeded 21 billion pieces.

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