Michelin outlines plans for sustainable tire development

MONTREAL, Que. – By 2048, Michelin is aiming to make its tires fully recyclable, and will construct them from 80% renewable and recycled materials.

The company made the announcement at its Movin’ On conference on sustainable mobility here. Michelin says the move will save 33 million barrels of oil per year, equivalent to 16.5 supertankers. That’s also equal to France’s entire monthly energy consumption.

“There are two major ambitions the group is taking for 2048,” said Cyrille Roget, who heads scientific and innovation communication for Michelin. “The two major ambitions concern what we put into tires, and what tires become.”

Today, 70% of tires are recovered, according to Roget. That’s not bad when you consider only 14% of plastics are recovered.

“If you think about that, the tire industry is very well advanced in recovering their tires,” Roget said, noting about 50% of tires are recycled into new materials such as rubber asphalt, and shoe soles.

Michelin will be using a high-tech approach to tire design to increase the recycling rate of its tires. It is working with partners such as Lehigh Technologies, a specialty chemical company that is part of Michelin’s High Technology Materials business unit. Lehigh produces micronized rubber powders (MRP), a sustainable raw material that reduces feedstock costs by up to 50%, according to the company.

MRP replaces oil and rubber-based feedstocks. Another technology being employed is the use of bio-sourced materials. Michelin launched its Biobutterfly program in 2012, which results in the creation of synthetic elastomers from biomass such as wood, straw or beet.

Today, Michelin tires are made from 28% sustainable materials, including both bio-sourced and recycled materials.

Michelin’s Movin’ On Conference is now in its second year. It brings together 155 partners, all of them interested in promoting sustainable mobility. Organizations at the event include businesses, universities, government representatives and media.

James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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