Clermont-Ferrand, France – Michelin Group will make its tires from 100% sustainable materials by 2050, up from the current 30%, the company announced 23 Feb.
The target commits Michelin to use only “natural, recycled or otherwise sustainable raw materials” for the 200+ ingredients – among them synthetic rubber, fibres, carbon black, silica and plasticisers – in tires.
A challenge, it noted, will be to ensure all alternative materials interact to deliver an optimal balance of performance, driveability and safety, while also reducing the tire’s environmental impact.
Michelin aims to leverage its materials-science capabilities, which are supported by around 6,000 people working in seven R&D centres around the world.
“They work hard every day to find the recipes that will improve tire safety, durability, ride and other performance features, while helping to make them 100% sustainable by 2050,” the French group stated.
The research effort will also involve partnerships with external companies and organisations with expertise in areas such as polystyrene recycling and the recovery of carbon black or pyrolysis oil from end-of-life tires (ELTs).
Here, Michelin cited it work, since 2019, with Axens and IFP Energies Nouvelles in the BioButterfly project to produce bio-sourced alternatives to petroleum-based butadiene.
“Using the biomass from wood, rice husks, leaves, corn stalks and other plant waste, 4.2 million tonnes of wood chips could be incorporated into Michelin tires every year,” the group added.
Michelin also noted partnerships with Canada-based Pyrowave, to produce recycled styrene monomer from plastics packaging, and another with French start-up Carbios, whose enzyme-based process can provide polyester tire yarn from PET waste.
More recently, Michelin announced in February 2021 that it will construct a tire recycling plant with Swedish company Enviro, which has developed technology to recover carbon black, pyrolysis oil, steel, gas and other materials from ELTs.
Michelin also highlighted its participation in the EU-financed BlackCycle consortium of 13 public and private-sector partners, which is designing processes to produce new tires from ELTs.