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Michelin tyres will be 100 per cent sustainable by 2050
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Michelin tyres will be 100 per cent sustainable by 2050

23.02.2021

Michelin aims to produce tyres entirely from renewable, recycled, bio-generated or otherwise sustainable materials by 2050. The company is demonstrating how tyres can be 100 per cent sustainable. Michelin is driving its progress with extensive research and development activities, ambitious partnerships and innovative start-ups.

Michelin Group is committed to making its tyre division 100 per cent sustainable by 2050 - inspired by the "VISION" airless concept tyre, an interconnected as well as fully sustainable product solution unveiled in 2017. Already today, nearly 30 per cent[1] of the components used by Michelin in tyre production are derived from natural, recycled or other sustainable raw materials.

A Michelin tyre is a high-tech product made up of more than 200 components. The main ingredient is natural rubber, which is complemented by components made from synthetic rubber, metal, fibres and fillers. These include carbon black, silica and plasticisers, which are used to further strengthen the structure of the tyre. These materials are brought together to achieve an optimal balance of performance, handling and safety. In addition, Michelin's know-how ensures that the tyre's environmental impact is constantly reduced.

Michelin reveals how to make a tyre 100 per cent sustainable

Check out the video showing you the recipe!

Michelin research and development drives sustainability

The high-performance technology behind Michelin tyres is the result of massive research and development work: around 6,000 employees* are involved in 350 specialist areas in seven research and development centres worldwide. The dedication of these engineers, researchers, chemists and developers has earned Michelin around 10,000 patent applications for its design and manufacturing. Every day, the experts work hard to advance formulations and technologies that improve tyre safety, durability or performance. At the same time, the overarching innovation goal must be achieved: By 2050, all tyres should be 100 per cent sustainable on the road.

 

Bold partnerships with innovative companies

Michelin is convinced that the speed of innovation and the transformation of mobility require new forms of collaboration. For this reason, the company enters into a wide variety of innovative partnerships. The technologies developed in these partnerships go far beyond the world of tyres and can also be used in other industries. For example, with the help of these partnerships, it is possible to recycle polystyrene and to extract soot or pyrolysis oil from used tyres.

The companies "Axens" and "IFP Energies Nouvelles" are responsible for the so-called "BioButterfly" project. They have been working together with Michelin on the production of bio-based butadiene[2] since 2019. This biomass from wood, rice husks, leaves, corn stalks and other plant waste is intended to replace petroleum-based butadiene. This would allow 4.2 million tonnes of wood chips to be processed annually for the production of Michelin tyres.

In November 2020, Michelin signed a partnership with the Canadian company Pyrowave. Here, recycled styrene is produced from plastics found in packaging such as yoghurt pots or in insulating panels. Styrene is an important monomer that is used not only to make polystyrene, but also synthetic rubber for tyres and a variety of other consumer goods. Every year, tens of thousands of tonnes of polystyrene waste could be recycled in this way back into their original products as well as into Michelin tyres.

The revolutionary process of the French start-up "Carbios" uses enzymes to split PET plastic waste[3] into its original monomers. These can be recovered an infinite number of times and recycled to produce new PET plastics. One of these recovered plastics is polyester yarn, which is used in tyre manufacturing. About four billion plastic bottles could thus potentially be recycled into Michelin tyres every year.

Finally, in February 2021, Michelin announced that it would partner with the Swedish company "Enviro" to start building the world's first tyre recycling plant. "Enviro" developed a patented technology to recover carbon black, pyrolysis oil, steel, gas and other high-value materials from scrap tyres. This allows valuable raw materials contained in tyres to be recycled and reused in various rubber-based production steps.

Michelin continues to support the circular economy, as demonstrated by the European "BlackCycle" project. The consortium is coordinated by the Michelin Group and funded by the European Union. In total, 13 public and private partners are coming together to develop processes to produce new tyres from scrap tyres.

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Inspired by the VISION concept tyre introduced in 2017, an airless, connected, rechargeable and entirely sustainable solution, the Michelin Group is committed to making its tyres 100 per cent sustainable by 2050.

[1] In 2020, 28 per cent of the materials used to make Michelin Group tyres were sustainable.

[2] Butadiene is a key component of synthetic rubber used to make tyres.

[3] Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is a petroleum-based plastic. Its two monomers ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid are derived from petroleum. It is used to produce polyester fibres, which are used to reinforce tyres.

 

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    David Johnson

    PR Manager, Michelin UK and Ireland

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