Montreal – Michelin has set a pair of ambitious tire-recycling targets for the coming 30 years. Simply, said Cyrille Roget, Michelin's technical and innovation communications director, the goals are intended "to change what tires become and to change what they are made of."
By 2048, Roget said the French tire maker expects its manufactured tires to contain 80% recycled materials. At the same time, the company aims to have 100% of its tires recycled.
Michelin officials, who articulated the goals during during the company's Movin'On advanced mobility conference, noted that committing to these sustainability efforts not only would conserve natural resources, but also would reduce the costs of materials used in manufacturing.
"If we achieve these ambitions, we would save 33 million barrels of oil each year," Roget said. "That is equivalent to the entire annual oil consumption of France."
While the goals are ambitious, Roget contends they are achievable. The tire industry, he said, already has a high recycling rate with roughly 70% of tires being recycled. About half of those recycled tires are used in high-value-added products such as rubberized asphalt and shoe soles.
"By comparison," Roget noted, "only 40% of plastics are recycled."
The disclosure of Michelin's goals follows the company's acquisition last fall of Lehigh Technologies Inc., the Tucker, Ga.-based scrap tire processor, which recycles tires into what it calls "micronized rubber powders" (MRPs). In the past, Lehigh noted that 65% of its MRPs have been used for tire-related applications.
But Michelin said achieving its tire recycling goals will require commitments from a variety of partners. So far, the tire maker said several collaborators have signed on to its sustainability plans, but Michelin expects more to follow suit.
"We seek the involvement not only of tire manufacturers, but of tire recyclers," Roget said. "This is not something we can do alone."