Michelin uses Technology Innovation for a sustainable future

Globally, more than 1 billion tyres reach their end-of-life each year, and the un-recycled Tyre waste has been identified as a global problem. Michelin, a leading tyre manufacturer has harnessed technology innovation and collaborations to help reduce waste.

A worn-out tyre is often dumped in a landfill or burnt or occasionally recycled. Did you know the USA produces over 290 million waste tyres a year, and with rapidly increasing vehicle sales in India and China, we will contribute a large fraction to the waste?

The adverse effects of improperly disposing tyres are many. Here are some quick facts on rubber tyres:

  • On average, 1 billion tyres reach landfills each year and the number is expected to rise to 5 billion by 2030
  • Only a small portion of the tyres manufactured are recycled, the remaining are stockpiled, or Landfilled, or buried
  • Tyre waste if stockpiled poses environmental, economic, and health risks from the air, water, and land pollution
  • A rubber tyre that reaches the landfill takes up to 80 years to naturally degrade, in the process toxic chemicals leach into the soil or the nearest waterways
  • If burnt, the harmful gases adversely impact the health of the environment and the residue left behind pollutes the soil

Around the world, governments have identified this growing issue and rolled outlaws that will ensure the worn-out tyres are dealt with either through take-back programs or through EPR.

Canada and Belgium have laws that put the onus of collecting and recycling worn-out tyres on the manufacturer.

In a recent development, Tyre manufacturing giant Michelin published a detailed plan to make all their tyres 100% sustainable by 2050. In a bid to fulfill their EPR requirements, their expert teams have resorted to ‘upstream technology innovation’, which increases tyres recyclability.

Using collaborations and technology innovation as their magic wand, the company reached out to and heavily invested their time and resources in finding sustainable and environment-friendly solutions.

To achieve its targets, the company has partnered with multiple industries and organisations such as:

  • Axens and IFP Energies Nouvelles for R&D on recycled bio-sourced material to manufacture their tyres
  • Pyroware, a Canada-based company will produce recycled styrene from plastic packaging such as yogurt pots, food trays, and insulating panels, etc. Styrene produced in an important monomer in the manufacturing of various consumer goods.
  • Carbios for degrading PET using enzymes which will convert the complex polymers into monomers, which can be used to make PET Plastic.
  • Enviro to set up its first tyre recycling plant which uses patented technology, enabling the recovery and reuse of tires in many rubber-based production processes

Such extensive collaboration and investments into R&D in tyres is extremely important in the current times where is there is a rapid rise in tyre waste.

In India, Tyre recycling has been carried out for over 4 decades, making it the second-largest producer of reclaimed rubber, after China. In 2011, India produced 90,000 MT of reclaimed rubber from worn-out tyres.

However, there is a significant gap in demand and supply. The majority of the industries resort to imported rubber waste rather than using local rubber waste. One key reason for this is the absence of a robust channel to help the recyclers link to the waste generators.

Recykal’s digital technology is on its way to help channelize this waste and bridge the wide gap in the “tyre world”.

So let’s not “tyre out” and recycle our waste!

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