Rubber Board mulls green step

Rubber Board mulls green step

Kochi: The Rubber Board, the government trade and cultivation development body, will soon present to the the ministry of environment and forests two projects that aim to check, in a cost-effective way, the sector’s share of greenhouse gas emissions. The move is the first by plantation sector. Once cleared, the projects will be placed for registration before the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

James Jacob, director of the board’s research wing, the Rubber Research Institute of India, said one of the projects aims to use waste to generate heat for drying rubber.

Jacob said for every kg of dry rubber produced, eight litres of effluents are generated. Natural degradation of the waste releases a huge amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane, with a global warming potential 23 times that of CO2. He said the proposed project aims to convert this waste into fuel through a process of bio-methenation. The effluents are converted into gases and used as energy to dry the rubber. They are not directly released in the atmosphere and the heat generated is equivalent to just one unit of CO2.

The other project relates to the use of biomass gasifiers in production of technically specified rubber (TSR)—where the rubber is processed according to industry-specific standards—in 20 factories in Kerala. Normally, diesel is used to dry rubber. The new method proposes to use “pyrolysis" or a form of incineration that chemically decomposes organic materials by heat in the absence of oxygen.

Jacob said one litre of diesel when burnt emits 3.5kg of CO2. With the annual production of 55,552 tonnes of TSR in these 20 factories, pyrolysis will save about 2.4 million litres of diesel, which is equivalent to an emission reduction of 8,361 tonnes of CO2.

The Kyoto Protocol says industries undertaking such projects are eligible to earn carbon credits (certified emission reductions, or CERs), which can be traded globally. Plantations, however, are termed as “business as usual" and thus cannot earn CERs. But the board plans to earn CERs by planting rubber in the North-East. “A large part of the expansion of rubber plantation in the North-East over the next decade would qualify for carbon credit," said Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for commerce. “Any new plantation would be a net addition to green cover."