At the Movin’ On 2018 sustainable mobility conference this week, Michelin announced two new goals: to use 80 percent sustainable materials in the manufacture of its tires and to invest in technology to make its tires 100 percent recyclable by 2048.
Today, the world-wide recovery rate for tires is 70 percent and the recycling rate is 50 percent. Michelin tires are currently made using 28 percent sustainable materials (26 percent bio-sourced materials like natural rubber, sunflower oil, limonene etc., and 2 percent recycled materials such as steel or recycled powdered tires). For a sustainable future, Michelin is investing in high technology recycling technologies to be able to increase this content to 80 percent sustainable materials.
One such investment was acquiring Lehigh Technologies Inc. late last year, a company that transforms the rubber from end-of-life tires into material that can be used in new tires, and other products. The micronized rubber powders (MRP) that Lehigh creates can be substituted for oil- and rubber-based feedstocks in lots of applications, including tires.
“If we achieve these ambitions, we would save 33 million barrels of oil each year,” said Cyrille Roget, Michelin’s technical and scientific communication director, “That is equivalent to the entire annual oil consumption of France.”
Michelin admits it needs the rest of the tire industry to join in the mission. “This is not something that we can achieve alone,” says Roget, calling both of these goals “major ambitions.”