Concept: German automotive manufacturing company Continental has commercially launched a passenger car tire made from recycled polyester yarn produced from PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles. This, according to the company, makes the technology far more efficient than current methods for turning PET bottles into high-performance polyester yarns.
Nature of Disruption: Continental leverages in-house ContiRe.Tex technology to obtain polyester yarn from used PET bottles without any intermediate chemical steps. The bottles utilized in the technique are all from areas where there is no complete recycling loop. After the caps are removed, the bottles are sorted and mechanically cleaned as part of a unique recycling process. The PET is mechanically shredded and then treated into granulate before being spun into polyester yarn. Material recycled from about 40 PET bottles is required to manufacture a set of standard tires using the technology developed to replace conventional polyester in a tire carcass.
Outlook: PET polyester yarn has long been utilized in the manufacture of passenger and light vehicle tires. Even under high loads and temperatures, the textile cords absorb the forces of the tire’s internal pressure and remain dimensionally stable. Continental’s PremiumContact 6 and EcoContact 6 summer tires would be the first to utilize the material in limited sizes, as mentioned. It intends to employ only sustainable resources in tire production by 2050. Continental is conducting extensive research into alternative tire manufacturing technologies to develop tires that are more energy-efficient and environmentally beneficial in terms of manufacturing, use, and recyclability.