Tyre giant Michelin has made an environmental commitment that all of its tyres will be entirely recyclable by 2048.
The company has also pledged that it will make its tyres using 80% sustainable materials within 30 years, up from 28% today. These sustainable materials include natural rubber and sunflower oil, as well as a small percentage of recycled materials such as steel and powdered tyres.
To reach its new targets Michelin is investing in the production of bio-sourced synthetic elastomers made from biomass like wood, straw and beet. The company has also recently bought Lehigh Technologies, which specialises in hi-tech micro powders derived from recycled tyres.
These Micronised Rubber Powders (MRP) replace oil and rubber in the manufacture of tyres and cut raw material costs by 50%.
The tyre industry already has a relatively impressive recycling record, with about 70% of the 1 billion tyres that reach the end of their rolling life each year recovered; 50% are recycled into products such as shoe soles and sports surfaces, and 20% burnt for energy.
“Recycling is a key element of our circular economy strategy,” said Cyrille Roget, Michelin’s scientific and innovation communication director.
If Michelin hits its new targets for 2048, the environmental savings will reach 33 million barrels of oil - equivalent to one month’s total energy consumption for a country the size of France.