Carbios & Michelin take a major step towards developing 100% sustainable tyres
MICHELIN has successfully validated the use of Carbios’ enzymatic recycling technology for PET plastic waste in its tyres. Carbios confirms the potential of its recycled PET to address all types of applications – from bottles to clothing fibres and now technical fibres. The validation of Carbios’ technology in Michelin’s tests, marks a new step towards 100% sustainable tyres.
Carbios’ enzymatic recycling process uses an enzyme capable of depolymerizing the PET contained in various plastics or textiles. This innovation allows infinite recycling of all types of PET waste. It also allows the production of 100% recycled and 100% recyclable PET products, with the same quality as if they were produced with virgin PET.
Conventional thermomechanical recycling processes for complex plastics do not achieve the PET high-performance grade required for pneumatic applications. However, the monomers resulting from Carbios’ process, which used coloured and opaque plastic waste such as bottles, once repolymerized in PET, made it possible to obtain a high tenacity fibre meeting Michelin’s tyre requirements.
The technical fibre obtained is of the same quality as the one from virgin PET, processed with the same prototype installations. This high tenacity polyester is particularly suitable for tyres, due to its breakage resistance, toughness, and thermal stability.
Michelin is committed to achieving 40% sustainable materials (of renewable or recycled origin) by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
Every year, 1.6 billion car tyres are sold worldwide (by all tire manufacturers combined). The PET fibres used in these tyres represent 800 000 tons of PET per year. When applied to Michelin – this represents nearly 3 billion plastic bottles per year that could be recycled into technical fibres for use in the company’s tyres.
“In 2019, Carbios announced it had produced the first PET bottles with 100% Purified Terephthalic Acid (rPTA), made from the enzymatic recycling of post-consumer PET waste. Today, with Michelin, we are demonstrating the full extent of our process by obtaining from this same plastic waste, recycled PET that is suitable for highly technical fibres, such as those used in Michelin’s tyres,” said Alain Marty, Carbios’ chief scientific officer.