Continental to make tyres out of recycled PET bottles: Aims for 100% sustainable materials

After mechanical shredding, the bottles are melted down and granulated; this is followed by solid-state polymerization and a modified spinning process.

By:August 4, 2021 11:33 AM

Continental recently announced that it will begin the use of reprocessed polyester obtained from recycled plastic bottles in its tyre production starting 2022. The tyre manufacturer states that recycling is becoming increasingly important in the design, development and production of premium tyres. By 2050 at the latest, Continental aims to successively use 100 percent sustainably produced materials in its tyre products. With the use of recycled PET, the tyre manufacturer succeeds in taking a further step toward a circular economy.

The new sustainable polyester yarn will be obtained from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles by a mechanical process and will be used in the construction of the tyre carcass. This can completely replace conventional polyester.

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Together with its cooperation partner and supplier OTIZ, a fiber specialist and textile manufacturer, the tyre manufacturer has developed a special technology to recycle PET bottles without previously necessary intermediate chemical steps and to make the polyester yarn functional for the high mechanical requirements of the tyre. In the course of so-called upcycling, a PET bottle becomes a high-performance PET material.

At this year’s IAA MOBILITY in Munich, Continental will present a highly innovative concept tyre with polyester yarn made from recycled PET bottles. With the use of recycled polyester yarn, we are taking another important step in the direction of cross-product circular economy, Dr Andreas Topp, responsible for materials, process development and industrialization in Continental’s tyres business area.

As part of the recycling process, the bottles are first sorted, caps removed and finally mechanically cleaned. After mechanical shredding, they are melted down and granulated; this is followed by solid-state polymerization and a modified spinning process.

“Our modified manufacturing process enables us to obtain polyester yarn for tire construction from PET bottles without any polymerization process from monomers,” explains Dr. Derren Huang, Chief of Research and Development at OTIZ.

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