Melbourne, Australia, August 9, 2021. Continental Tyres, the leaders in tyre safety globally, has today announced the implementation of reprocessed polyester obtained from recycled plastic bottles in its tyre production from 2022.
The new sustainable polyester yarn will be obtained from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles by a mechanical process and will be used in the construction of the tyre carcass – completely replacing the need for conventional polyester.
Together with partner and supplier OTIZ, a fibre specialist and textile manufacturer, Continental has developed a special technology to recycle PET bottles into high-performance PET material. Uniquely, this process can now be undertaken without the necessary intermediate chemical steps that had been required to ensure the polyester yarn was functional for high mechanical usage.
"As early as 2022, we will be able to use material obtained from recycled PET bottles in tyre production. In our innovative recycling process, the fibres are spun from recycled PET without having to break the material down into its components beforehand," says Dr Andreas Topp, who’s responsible for materials, process development and industrialisation in Continental’s Tyres business area.
Laboratory and tyre tests conducted by Continental have shown that the recycled raw material fibres perform equally well as the fibres used up until now. They have the same quality as virgin PET, are just as stable, and are particularly suitable for tyres due to their breaking strength, toughness and thermal stability.
As part of the recycling process, the bottles are first sorted, caps removed and mechanically cleaned. After mechanical shredding, they are melted down and granulated; this is followed by solid state polymerisation and a modified spinning process.
Conventional PET has long been used as a material in car tyre construction because it retains its shape even under high loads and temperatures. The use of recycled PET conserves valuable resources in tyre construction: today, a conventional passenger car tyre consists of around 400 grams of polyester yarn. This means that more than 60 recycled PET bottles can be used for a complete set of vehicle tyres in the future.
Recycling is becoming increasingly important in the design, development and production of Continental Tyres. By 2050 at the latest, Continental aims to successively use 100 percent sustainably produced materials in its tyre products. With the use of recycled PET, the tyre manufacturer succeeds in taking a further step towards a circular economy.
“Globally, Continental Tyres has an ambition that by 2050 we completely innovate product and resource cycles together with partners and suppliers to create more-sustainable solutions in the tyre industry,” says Continental Tyres Managing Director, Mitchell Golledge.
“Resourcing PET materials from recycled substances brings us one step closer to Continental’s future in the circular economy and puts us at the forefront of sustainable innovations.”