The Michelin recipe for tires with 100% of sustainable materials
Michelin has undertaken to address a huge challenge, to deliver safer, cleaner and more efficient mobility accessible to all, in resonance with its values and corporate DNA (particularly innovation and environmental responsibility).
The VISION concept, presented at Movin’On in 2017, offers a compelling illustration of Michelin’s sustainable development model.
It also offers both a future-facing vision of tomorrow’s sustainable mobility and a roadmap that inspires Michelin’s entire innovation ecosystem to develop new solutions and directs its research, whose feasibility and effectiveness Michelin is demonstrating with each passing year (airless, sustainable, connected and tread recharging using a 3D printer).
After the unveiling of the Michelin UPTIS prototype in 2019, which embodies the concept’s Airless capabilities, Michelin is this year highlighting its concrete advances in the field of sustainable materials.
VISION, developed from bio sourced and recycled materials, reflects the Group’s goal of ensuring that 100% of the materials in all its tires are sustainable by 2050, with the interim target of reaching the threshold of 40% sustainable materials Group-wide by 2030, in line with the « Michelin In Motion » plan.
Michelin reveal at Movin’On 2021
At Movin’On 2021, Michelin will unveil a tire demonstrating concrete technological advances in the integration of sustainable materials.
These advances are a direct result of Michelin’s commitment to motorsport competition, a full-scale technological laboratory that is essential to the development of new sustainable solutions.
A recipe more complicated than it looks
Today’s Michelin tires are more high-tech than ever, comprising more than 200 components.
These perfectly proportioned ingredients interact to deliver balanced performance in terms of safety, comfort and environmental impact reduction.
A wide variety of different families of materials are used to make the components, including natural rubber, synthetic rubber, metal, textiles, reinforcing agents (carbon black, silica, etc.) and plasticizers, (e.g., resins) as well as elements such as sulfur for vulcanization.
Michelin is committed to ensuring that all tire components are ultimately sustainable. To achieve this, Michelin is leveraging its advanced technological maturity in high-tech materials and its own technology incubator.
One example among many is the Group’s plan to produce butadiene from biomass (waste wood, rice husks, corn stover, etc.) to replace butadiene derived from petroleum. Butadiene is a key component in the synthetic rubbers used to make tires.
In addition, many other projects are already underway to regenerate plastic (PET), recycle polystyrene or recover carbon black from used tires.
Michelin has also undertaken to use as little material as possible in its tires in order to maximize performance and efficiency. The aim is to limit the impact of tires on the planet’s resources and improve their rolling resistance, thereby lowering CO2 emissions.
To meet Michelin’s goal of producing 100% sustainable tires, natural rubber – which is still the main material used in tire manufacturing – must also be produced responsibly. Michelin rapidly committed to making the sector environmentally responsible and beneficial to all stakeholders.
The Squad and its expertise
More than 6,000 people in the Group worldwide – engineers, researchers, chemists and developers – are committed to reaching Michelin’s goal to make its tires 100% sustainable by 2050.
As well as its experience and unique expertise, Michelin is aware that the speed and nature of innovations require a new level of cooperation. With this in mind, the Group has positioned itself as a unifying force among innovative technology partners and trail-blazers, not hesitating to bring teams together from very different realms.
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Parmi les partenaires d’innovation technologique :
Axens et IFP Energies Nouvelles (projet BioButterfly) :
Production of butadiene from biomass, such as waste wood, rice husks and corn stover.
Production of regenerated textiles from PET plastic waste (plastic bottles used for water, juice, cooking oils, dishwashing liquid, etc.).
Production of carbon black recycled from end-of-life tires.
Production of regenerated styrene from waste polystyrene (yogurt pots, food containers, plastic packaging, etc.)
A global vision that factors in environmental impact
As part of its commitment to integrating sustainable materials into its tires, Michelin uses ecodesign principles to limit its tires’ environmental impact at every stage in their lifecycle, from the supply of raw materials and production to the use and recycling phases.
With regard to product recycling, the tire industry is now one of the most advanced industries in terms of end-of-life product management. While only 14% of plastic packaging is said to be recovered worldwide, it is estimated that 88%* of end-of-life tires are now collected for recycling or reuse*.
To drive further progress in the management of end-of-life tires, Michelin participates in various initiatives aimed at developing recycling solutions.
Michelin is involved, for example, in the collection and recycling of end-of-life tires to help its customers improve their environmental footprint (through Aliapur, TIP…) while also investing in the development of disruptive recycling technologies (Lehigh Technologies).
Michelin also participates in consortiums dedicated to the circular economy, such as the European consortium behind the BlackCycle project. Coordinated by Michelin and funded by the EU, this project brings together 13 public and private organizations with the aim of creating, developing and optimizing a full value chain for end-of-life tires by recycling them into secondary raw materials.
*Source: Global_ELT_Management–A_global_state_of_knowledge_on_regulation_management_systems_impacts_of_recovery_and_technologies – decembre 2019
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