Recycled polyester from PET bottles? In ordinary tyres? Yes, this is possible thanks to the ContiRe.Tex technology from Continental. These unique products are already on the market and bring Continental one step closer to its goal of using only sustainable materials in its tyres.
The ContiRe.Tex technology was announced by Continental in autumn 2021 and this summer saw the launch of the first tyres containing recycled polyester from PET bottles. The new material is used as the base within selected tyres instead of conventional polyester and, for one set of passenger car tyres, about 40 PET bottles are needed.
- We are the first tyre manufacturer to mass-produce this type of tyre.
There is a huge number of PET bottles in the world that are not part of any closed system, i.e. they are not recycled, but end up in landfills, and it is these bottles that we are taking advantage of. The clothing industry already uses this type of polyester, but we are the first in the tyre industry," says Per Linder, Product Manager at Continental in Sweden.
No chemical steps
The ContiRe.Tex technology means that a polyester yarn is extracted from used PET bottles without any intermediate chemical steps. During the recycling process, the bottles are sorted and mechanically cleaned after the caps have been removed. After mechanical shredding, the PET material is then processed into granules and finally into a spun polyester yarn.
- It's always fun to make prototype tyres without air or rims - but this is the real thing. Initially, the tyres using ContiRe.Tex technology will be produced in a limited edition and come in three models with varying dimensions. For the Swedish market, it's mainly summer tyres in the PremiumContactTM 6 and EcoContactTM 6 series. "The idea is to grow to a much larger scale," says Per Linder.
Sustainable-only materials as a goal
The polyester yarn from the recycled PET bottles is used for the so-called textile cushion that sits on top of the tyre body and is usually made of rubberised viscose or conventional polyester. The textile cords not only give the body extra strength but also control the internal pressure of the tyre and maintain its shape.
- For us, safety is always a priority, and this, of course, is also the case when we launch materials with new content. The ContiRe.Tex technology works just as well as our other tyres that do not contain the PET bottles. This is a step towards our goal of using only recycled or sustainable materials in all our tyres by 2050," says Per Linder.
The unique tyres from Continental - among a host of other innovations - can be seen at Subcontractor InnoDex during Elmia Subcontractor, 15-17 November.
Subcontractor InnoDex is the arena for all product developers, engineers and designers in the industry - a knowledge and inspiration arena beyond the ordinary, with exhibitions and lectures on new materials, innovative technologies and creative processes. This year, Subcontractor InnoDex has four focus areas:
- Materials for Green Energy
- Circular Materials for Future Mobility and Design
- Additive High-Tech Applications
- Smart and Digital Materials