Michelin to produce tires partly from sustainable materials

Michelin has unveiled two tires that are made to a large extent from sustainable materials. The model for cars contains 45% recycled components; the one for buses even raises the ratio to 58%. According to the brand, this represents a new milestone, as this will be the first tire with circular materials on the market.

Mobility will change, but tires remain a crucial component regardless of how the future will turn out. And the rubber underneath our vehicles will need to become sustainable. Michelin says it has made significant progress in reaching that goal and is readying the production of two exemplars of highly sustainable tires homologated for road use without compromising performance.

Rice husks

Both tires rely more on natural rubber and recycled carbon black from used tires, biological silica from rice husks, and steel incorporating recycled scrap metal to meet the demands. In addition, the former also uses bio-based oils and resins as textile fibers because of the different needs for passenger cars versus buses.

Because of its less complex composition, the heavy-duty tire reaches the highest degree of sustainability. To cope with more significant loads, the polyester casing is replaced by one from recycled metal, while the thread uses more natural rubber to cope with the rise in internal pressure.

Recycling tires

Michelin acknowledges that sourcing suitable materials doesn’t suffice to meet the demands of a sustainable tire. Therefore, it evaluates its entire value chain, from sourcing raw materials to producing and transporting its tires or end-of-life recycling to meet holistic demands.

As for recycling, Michelin invented a technology with Swedish start-up Enviro to transform used tires into raw materials using pyrolysis. With minimal energy requirements, this process turns old tires into carbon black, oil, steel, or gas that can be re-introduced in the value chain.

2030 or 2050?

Many tire makers have stepped forward with prototypes made from recycled or bio-based materials, but Michelin is the first to flag off a production version. However, both tires can’t be ordered as of today. Instead, the French brand aims to begin with marketing in 2025. The goal is to manufacture a 100% sustainable tire by 2050.

On the Citro├źn Oli, which debuted at the Paris Motor Show 2022, Goodyear showcased the Eagle GO. This tire can be renewed twice and reach a lifecycle of 500 000 kilometers. But it’s a concept, and Goodyear remains tightlipped about whether or when a production version could be feasible. The brand aims for a tire made from fully sustainable materials by 2030. It has presented a demonstration version with 70% recycled materials.

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