Tire maker Continental is to start using reprocessed polyester obtained from recycled plastic bottles in its tire production as of 2022.
The new sustainable polyester yarn will be obtained from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles by a mechanical process and will be used in the construction of the tire carcass. This can completely replace conventional polyester.
Together with its cooperation partner and supplier OTIZ, a fiber specialist and textile manufacturer, the premium tire manufacturer has developed a special technology to recycle PET bottles without previously necessary intermediate chemical steps and to make the polyester yarn functional for the high mechanical requirements of the tire. In the course of so-called upcycling, a PET bottle becomes a high-performance PET material.
“As early as 2022, we will be able to use material obtained from recycled PET bottles in tire production. In our innovative recycling process, the fibres are spun from recycled PET without having to break the material down into its components beforehand,” says Dr Andreas Topp, responsible for materials, process development and industrialization in Continental’s Tires business area.
“With the use of recycled polyester yarn, we are taking another important step in the direction of cross-product circular economy,” he adds.
Recycling is becoming increasingly important in the design, development and production of premium tires. By 2050 at the latest, Continental aims to successively use 100 per cent sustainably produced materials in its tire products. With the use of recycled PET, the tire manufacturer takes a further step toward circular economy.
“Our ambition is clear: By 2050 at the latest, we want to completely close our product and resource cycles together with partners and suppliers,” highlighted Claus Petschick, Head of Sustainability at the Tires business area of Continental.