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Recycled materials are key to the innovation programs of Michelin, GoodYear, Continental and Bridgestone.

When speaking of sustainability for tyres, the thought of their disposal and recycling mainly occurs. But the topic is actually broader.

Microplastics and air pollution: the role of tyres

The issue of air pollution from tyres is basically traced back to their combustion. Yet, according to recent research by Emission Analytics, the pollution produced by particulates released during rolling is 2,000 times greater than that of exhaust gases. These are microplastics that can enter the lungs (as recently discovered by York University research) and end up in the bloodstream.

In one of our next articles we will tell you how a British start-up has addressed this problem with a particularly innovative solution.

This is why a holistic approach to sustainability is becoming increasingly important, looking not only at recycling but also at proper use, minimising rolling resistance with proper care and maintenance of the tyres.

Growing use of recycled material for greener tyres

All major car manufacturers are investing in research to increase the use of recycled material whitin new tyres. From metal, to rubber, to yarn, studies are focusing on how to introduce increasing amounts without compromising performance. We previously discussed in an article how Yokohama produces racing tyres with 30 per cent recycled material.

Let us now look at the programs of the other major manufacturers: Continental, GoodYear, Bridgestone and Michelin.

Vediamo ora i programmi delle altre grandi case produttrici: Continental, GoodYear e Michelin.

Continental: tyres made from PET

Polyester is present inside tyre casings in the form of yarn. Continental is the first manufacturer to start mass production of tyres made from a polyester yarn obtained by recycling plastic bottles (PET). Thanks to an innovative technological process, the recovered material completely replaces conventional polyester inside the tyre carcass. The PET polyester yarn plays a key role inside the casing: the textile fibers absorb internal pressure forces and remain dimensionally stable even under high loads and temperatures.

A standard set of passenger car tyres contains about 40 recycled PET bottles and Continental has stated that it is constantly looking for alternative materials to use for its tyres. We will elaborate on this project in a future article.

Michelin: from yoghurt to the road

The French manufacturer is following a similar path to Germany and has announced that in 2024 it will launch new tyres made from recycled yoghurt pots and PET bottles. Within a single tyre, it will be possible to recycle around 143 yoghurt pots and 12.5 PET bottles.

Michelin's goal is to produce premium tyres using 40 per cent sustainable materials by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2050.

GoodYear: aiming for 100% sustainable tyres

Anche Goodyear sta investendo nella produzione di pneumatici ad alte prestazioni realizzati con materiali riciclati e tecnologie per migliorare l'efficienza energetica. L’obiettivo è di arrivare a prodotti al 100% sostenibili entro il 2030. Un traguardo alla portata visto che al momento sono riusciti a sviluppare pneumatici con il 70% di materiali a ridotto impatto ambientale. Questo è stato reso possibile grazie a innovazioni tecnologiche all’avanguardia per il settore e che fanno ben sperare. Inoltre, l'azienda sta collaborando con i propri clienti per ridurre l'impatto ambientale della loro flotta di veicoli.

Bridgestone: lighter and more efficient tyres for the electric car

Bridgestone is working to reduce tyre weight and improve energy efficiency, particularly for use in electric cars. The Turanza Eco line combines technologies to reduce weight by using fewer raw materials and reduce rolling resistance through innovative tread patterns, larger diameters and high inflation pressures.

The use of proprietary virtual tyre development technology saves time and materials for track testing and helps reduce environmental impact throughout the life cycle.

Towards a more sustainable supply chain

The increasing use of recycled materials is leading many companies to review their supply chain, considering aspects such as reducing waste, for example by recovering production waste in ways such as those developed by Rubber Conversion , and using renewable energy sources. These practices not only improve environmental impact, but can also help reduce long-term costs.

It is important to note that sustainability not only concerns the production of tyres, but also the use and management of end-of-life tyres. Many countries are implementing laws to promote the recycling of end-of-life tyres and reduce the environmental impact of landfills. We discuss the regulatory situation in this interview with Renzo Maggiolo, Vice President of UNIRIGOM.

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