Michelin says its goal of “achieving 40% sustainable materials (from renewable or recycled origin) by 2030 and 100% by 2050” is one step closer to reality. The French tire giant has successfully tested a plastic recycling technology by the French biochemistry company Carbios, which can be used in the production of tires.
Carbios’ enzymatic recycling process for polyethylene terephthalate plastic waste (better known as PET) is based on an enzyme capable of depolymerizing plastic. PET is the type of plastic used to make bottles, polyester clothing and even some types of carpets. It is often recycled (including into fleece jackets), but it is also a major source of plastic waste. According to Michelin, conventional recycling practices do not lead to a product suitable for use in tires, but the enzymatic process “resulting in” high tenacity polyester is particularly suitable for tires because of its break resistance, toughness and thermal stability. “
“These high-tech enhancements have demonstrated their ability to deliver performance identical to that of the oil industry,” Nicolas Seeboth, Michelin’s polymer research director, said in a statement.
Michelin estimates that nearly 3 billion plastic bottles a year can be recycled into technical fibers for use in the company’s tires.