Material experts and tire engineers at Continental are working on developing new tires made from sustainable materials. By 2050 at the latest, all tires are to be made of sustainable materials, a company release shows.
There is still a long way to go until then. But step by step, it is already becoming apparent which raw materials will find their way into tire construction in the future. These include waste products from agriculture – such as the ash from rice husks – rubber from dandelions, recycled rubber or PET bottles.
Claus Petschick, Head of Sustainability at Continental Tires, said: “Continental is on the road toward becoming the most progressive manufacturer in the tire industry in terms of sustainability. We aim to use 100 percent sustainable materials in our tire products by 2050 at the latest.” He adds, “Our innovative power enables us to break new and even more sustainable ground. This encompasses everything from the origin and sourcing of our materials through to the reuse and recycling of our tires.”
Already today, around 15 to 20 percent renewable or recycled materials are used in a standard passenger car tire from Continental. To further increase the proportion of sustainable materials and conserve valuable resources, Continental continuously analyzes and reviews all raw materials used in tire production.
Natural rubber is essential for ensuring outstanding tire performance. This natural product accounts for between 10 and 40 percent of the entire weight of modern high-performance tires. Its special properties include the high level of strength and durability, which are caused by the strain-induced crystallization of the rubber. The tire industry is the biggest consumer of global rubber production, accounting for more than 70 percent. However, Continental considers natural rubber a sustainable material only if it is sourced responsibly. Therefore, the company employs an integrated approach aimed at making the complex and fragmented supply chains for natural rubber more sustainable. Including using cutting-edge digital technology, local involvement and close collaboration with capable partners with the goal of improving transparency and traceability along the entire value chain.
In addition to rubber, fillers such as silica are essential to tire assembly. Silica, for example, helps to optimize characteristics such as grip, rolling resistance and tire life. In the future, rice husks will be used as the source material for sustainably produced silica. Rice husks are a waste product of rice production and cannot be used as food or animal feed. Silica derived from the ash of rice husks is more energy-efficient when used in manufacturing than that obtained from conventional materials such as quartz sand.