Michelin has announced an ambitious plan to ensure that by 2048 all of its tyres will be manufactured using 80 percent sustainable materials, and 100 per cent of all tyres will be recycled.
Michelin says its tyres are currently made using 28 per cent sustainable materials (26 per cent bio-sourced materials like natural rubber, sunflower oil, limonene etc., and 2 per cent recycled materials such as steel or recycled powdered tyres). For a sustainable future, the company is investing in high technology recycling technologies to be able to increase this content to 80 per cent sustainable materials.
The route to this sustainable material target will be achieved, says Michelin, by research programs into bio-sourced materials and working with Michelin’s high-level partners, and the advanced technologies and materials that are being developed in these partnerships. The Biobutterfly program was launched in 2012 with Axens and IFP Energies Nouvelles to create synthetic elastomers from biomass such as wood, straw or beet.
Recently, Michelin acquired Lehigh, a specialist in high technology micro powders which are derived from recycled tyres. Lehigh Technologies is part of the High Technology Materials Business Unit of Michelin and is the leader in the market place for Micronised Rubber Powders (MRP). MRP replaces oil- and rubber-based feedstocks in a wide range of industrial and consumer applications, including high performance tyres, plastics, consumer goods, coatings, sealants, construction materials and asphalt.
Lehigh operates the world’s largest MRP manufacturing plant, in Tucker, Georgia, U.S., with an annual production capacity of 54,000 tonnes. Lehigh’s Application & Development Center is also located in Tucker and serves as an innovation hub where Michelin conducts research and formulates MRPs in collaboration with its customers. Michelin has five product ranges so far, PolyDyne, MicroDyne, EkoDyne, Rheopave and Zenoflex, and continues to expand the range of solutions in core markets.
To achieve its goal of tyres that are 100 per cent recycled, Michelin proposes to develop partnerships and identify new ways to recycle tyres, or new outlets for recycled tyres.