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:
All tyres with ContiRe.Tex technology in the first launch are manufactured at Continental's tyre factory in Lousado, Portugal, and carry the "Contains Recycled Material" logo.
The tyres for the Extreme-E all-electric SUV racing series are manufactured by Continental and for the current season the ContiRe.Tex technology is used for all tyres. This tyre uses 58 PET bottles per tyre.
The bottles used in the ContiRe.Tex technology come exclusively from regions without a closed recycling loop.
Per Linder, product manager at Continental in Sweden.
The unique tyres are already on the market and, for example, all the cars accompanying this year's Tour de France were fitted with ContiRe.Tex tyres.