Michelin tires are 100 percent sustainable by 2050

By David Barlow
Last Updated: September 13, 2021
Michelin tires sustainable by 2050

Michelin aims to make tires entirely from renewable, recycled, organically produced or otherwise sustainable materials by 2050. The company is showing how tires can be 100 percent sustainable. Michelin is driving its progress with extensive activities in research and development, ambitious partnerships and innovative start-ups.

The Michelin Group has committed itself to making its tire division 100 percent sustainable by 2050 – inspired by the airless “VISION” concept tire presented in 2017, a networked and fully sustainable product solution. Already today, almost 30 percent [1] of the components used by Michelin for tire production are obtained from natural, recycled or other sustainable raw materials.

A Michelin tire is a high-tech product that consists of more than 200 components. The main component is natural rubber, which is supplemented by components made from synthetic rubber, metal, fibers and fillers. These include carbon black, silica and plasticizers, with which the structure of the tire is additionally strengthened. These materials are brought together in such a way that an optimal ratio of performance, driving behavior and safety is achieved. In addition, with its know-how, Michelin ensures that the environmental impact of tires is steadily reduced.

Michelin research and development drives sustainability

The high-performance technology behind Michelin Tires is the result of massive research and development work: around 6,000 employees are involved in 350 specialist areas in seven research and development centers around the world. The commitment of these engineers, researchers, chemists and developers earned Michelin around 10,000 patent applications for design and manufacture. The experts work intensively every day to advance formulations and technologies that can improve the safety, service life and driving behavior of tires. At the same time, it is important to achieve the overarching innovation goal: By 2050, all tires should be 100 percent sustainable on the road.

Courageous partnerships with innovative companies

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

The companies “Axens” and “IFP Energies Nouvelles” are responsible for the so-called “BioButterfly” project. You have been working with Michelin on the production of butadiene [2] on an organic basis since 2019. This biomass from wood, rice hulls, leaves, corn stalks and other plant waste is intended to replace the petroleum-based butadiene. This would allow 4.2 million tons of wood chips to be processed annually for the production of Michelin tires.

In November 2020 Michelin signed the partnership with the Canadian company “Pyrowave”. Here, recycled styrene is made 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 to make synthetic rubber for tires and a variety of other consumer products. Every year tens of thousands of tons of polystyrene waste could be recycled back into their original products and into Michelin tires.

The revolutionary process by the French start-up “Carbios” uses enzymes to break down PET plastic waste [3] into its original monomers. These can be recovered indefinitely and reused to manufacture new PET plastics. One of these recovered plastics is polyester yarn, which is used in tire manufacture. Around four billion plastic bottles could potentially be recycled into Michelin tires Review every year.

Finally, in February 2021, Michelin announced that it would start building the world’s first tire recycling plant together with the Swedish company “Enviro”. “Enviro” developed a patented technology to extract soot, pyrolysis oil, steel, gas and other high-quality materials from used tires. This enables valuable raw materials contained in tires 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.

(Source: Michelin)

David Barlow

Automotive Experts at World Tire Review

Hi everyone, I’m David (Tireguy). I believe that finding tires can lead to a lot of confusion and frustration for almost every driver. That’s why I would like to bring my experiences and knowledges to develop World Tire Review blog, it will give people a deeper understanding of what choosing the right tire is really like!

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