Innovation That Matters

Continental's new tyre replaces virgin PET in the tyre carcass | Photo source Pixabay

New tyres made from recycled plastic bottles

Mobility & Transport

Continental Tyres has released a commercial tyre made using polyester recycled from PET bottles

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Spotted: Plastic PET (polyethylene terephthalate) waste is a worldwide scourge. The material is produced from petroleum products, contributing to carbon emissions, and often ends up in landfills, where it can remain for hundreds of years. Although technically recyclable, the recycling rate of PET bottles and jars hovers at around 30 per cent. Now, a new tyre from Continental Tyres could help reduce this problem.

Most tyres are made using polyester fibre made from virgin PET. But Continental’s new tyres use polyester made from recycled PET bottles. The recycled polyester can completely replace the conventionally-produced virgin PET in the tyres. To develop the new polyester, Continental teamed up with OTIZ, a textile manufacturer, to develop a specialised technology that produces high-quality polyester yarn from recycled PET without the use of petroleum-derived chemicals.

The new yarn is used in the tyre carcass, the horseshoe-shaped layer that sits just above the inner liner and acts as the backbone of the tyre. The recycled polyester is used in the form of textile cords. A conventional car tire contains around 400 grammes of polyester yarn in its carcass, usually sourced from virgin PET. However, the new tyres use almost exclusively recycled PET – with around 60 recycled plastic bottles going into every set of new tyres.

Tyres themselves are a major source of rubbish with billions disposed of each year. Tyres also shed microplastics into the environment. These issues won’t be solved through the use of recycled PET alone, but it is a start. Other innovations attempting to make tyres less carbon-intensive include commercial tyres made using soybeans and the use of waste tyres in as a construction material.  

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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