This story was all over the news, but it’s worth noting. Sumitomo Rubber has announced that it plans to begin selling tires in Japan that include no petrochemical materials by 2013, a company spokesperson announced this week. In June of this year, Sumitomo Rubber launched a line of tires in Japan under the EnaSave name in which petrochemicals account for just 3 percent of raw materials, compared to about 56 percent for conventional tires. The remaining 97 percent consists of oil-free materials such as steel wires, vegetable oil, rayon instead of polyester and nylon reinforcements, natural rubber instead of synthetic, and silica instead of carbon black. The only petrochemicals in the tire are 6PPD antioxidants and vulcanization accelerators. The price of the tire is more than 30 percent higher than that of an ordinary tire.
“How to produce the remaining 3-percent part from other natural resources but oil is now under development,” the Sumitomo spokesman, Ryota Senshu, said.
Sumitomo hopes to sell 20,000 units of the 97-percent oil-free tire in the 12 months from June, and sales thus far have been in line with the plan.