Michelin sets goals for sustainability and recyclability
At Movin’On 2018, Michelin announced its plan to ensure that by 2048, all of its tires will be manufactured using 80% sustainable materials and 100% of all tires will be recycled.
Today, the worldwide recovery rate for tires is 70%, and the recycling rate is 50%. Michelin tires are currently made using 28% sustainable materials (26% bio-sourced materials like natural rubber, sunflower oil, and limonene; and 2% recycled materials such as steel or recycled powdered tires). Michelin said it is investing in advanced recycling technologies to be able to increase this content to 80% sustainable materials.
Michelin said that achieving this target will be aided by research programs into bio-sourced materials such as Biobutterfly and by working with its partners and the advanced technologies and materials that are being developed in these partnerships. The Biobutterfly program was launched in 2012 with Axens and IFP Energies Nouvelles to create synthetic elastomers from biomass such as wood, straw, or beet.
A statement released by the company says that it is currently developing solutions in order to integrate more recycled and renewable materials in its tires, including 30% of recycled materials by 2048. To that end the company recently acquired Lehigh, a specialist in high-technology micro powders that are derived from recycled tires.
Commenting on this venture, Christophe Rahier, Director of the High Technology Materials Business Line at Michelin, said, “This acquisition demonstrates Michelin's strategic determination to capitalize on its expertise in high-tech materials, in areas that extend beyond the field of tires. In particular, by promoting the use of innovative recycled materials from tires in a variety of non-pneumatic industrial sectors.”
In 2018, an estimated 70% of tires are recovered and 50% are recycled every year, on average, according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. The recycled material is used in products such as rubber for sports surfaces, and the additional 20% is transformed into energy.
Last year at Movin’On, Michelin revealed its vision concept in which advanced materials and 3D printing technologies will be used to manufacture and renew the tread of the tire, which will mean that it is 100% recyclable. The concept is an airless tire made of bio-sourced and recycled products. A connected eco-system within the tire will provide services and advice to the driver. The bio-degradable tread will be renewable with a 3D printer.