Michelin and Carbios Co-develop Sustainable Tires Based on Recycled PET
CARBIOS and Michelin have taken a major step towards developing 100% sustainable tires. Michelin has successfully tested and applied Carbios’ enzymatic recycling process for PET plastic waste, in order to create a high tenacity tire fiber that meets the tire-giant’s technical requirements.
Carbios’ enzymatic recycling process uses an enzyme capable of depolymerizing the PET contained in various plastics or textiles (bottles, trays, polyester clothing, etc.). 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.
Recycled PET for Use in Tires
The monomers resulting from Carbios’ process, which used colored and opaque plastic waste such as bottles, once repolymerized in PET, made it possible to obtain a high tenacity fiber to meet Michelin’s tire requirements.
The technical fiber 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 tires, due to its breakage resistance, toughness, and thermal stability.
“We are very proud to be the first to have produced and tested recycled technical fibres for tires. These reinforcements were made from colored bottles and recycled using the enzymatic technology of our partner, Carbios,” said Nicolas Seeboth, director of polymer research at Michelin. “These high-tech reinforcements have demonstrated their ability to provide performance identical to those from the oil industry.”
Carbios’ enzymatic recycling process therefore enables Michelin to get one step closer to its sustainable ambitions, and contributes to the entry of tires into a true circular economy. Michelin is committed to achieving 40% sustainable materials (of renewable or recycled origin) by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
The Potential of Carbios’ Process Confirmed
This major step constitutes a world-first in the tire sector and confirms the potential of Carbios’ process to engage the industry in a responsible transition towards a sustainable circular economy model.
“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 fibers, such as those used in Michelin’s tires,” said Alain Marty, Carbios’ Chief Scientific Officer.