Michelin says its tyres will be made entirely from renewable, recycled, bio-sourced or otherwise sustainable materials by 2050.

The supplier adds, inspired by the Vision concept tyre introduced in 2017, an airless, connected, rechargeable and entirely sustainable solution, the Michelin Group is committed to making its tyres 100% sustainable by 2050.

Today, nearly 30% of the components used in the manufacture of tyres produced by the Michelin Group are already made from natural, recycled or otherwise sustainable raw materials.

A Michelin tyre is a product comprising more than 200 ingredients. The main one is natural rubber, but the many ingredients also include synthetic rubber, metal, fibres and components that strengthen a tyre’s structure, such as carbon black, silica and plasticisers (resins).

Axens and IFP Energies Nouvelles, the two companies spearheading the BioButterfly project, have been working with Michelin since 2019 on producing bio-sourced butadiene to replace petroleum-based butadiene. Using the biomass from wood, rice husks, leaves, corn stalks and other plant waste, 4.2m tonnes of wood chips could be incorporated into Michelin tyres every year.

Signed in November, 2020, the partnership between Michelin and Canada-based Pyrowave can produce recycled styrene from plastics found in packaging, such as yogurt pots and food trays, or in insulating panels.

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Styrene is an important monomer used to manufacture not only polystyrene but also synthetic rubber for tyres and a wide variety of consumer goods. Eventually, tens of thousands of tonnes of polystyrene waste could be recycled back into its original products as well as into Michelin tyres every year.

The process developed by French start-up Carbios, which will be based on a Michelin site from autumn 2021, uses enzymes to deconstruct PET plastic waste into its original pure monomers, which can be infinitely recovered and reused to make new PET plastics. One of these recovered plastics is the polyester yarn used in tyre manufacturing. The French supplier says some 4bn plastic bottles could potentially be recycled into Michelin tyres every year.

Michelin recently announced it will launch the construction of its first tyre recycling plant with Enviro. The Swedish company has developed a technology to recover carbon black, pyrolysis oil, steel, gas and other new, reusable materials from end-of-life tyres. It will enable everything in these tyres to be recovered and reused in several types of rubber-based production processes.

Michelin also supports the circular economy, as attested by its participation in the European BlackCycle consortium. The project, which is coordinated by the Group and financed by the European Union, brings together 13 public and private sector partners to design processes to produce new tyres from end-of-life ones.