Canadian Plastics

Michelin approves first application of PET enzymatic recycling in car tires

The French tire maker says it has successfully validated the use of Carbios’ enzymatic recycling technology for PET plastic waste as a high-tenacity reinforcing fibre in its tires.

April 26, 2021   Canadian Plastics

In a development that’s being called a “major step” towards developing 100 per cent sustainable tires, French tire maker Michelin says it has successfully validated the use of green chemistry developer Carbios’ enzymatic recycling technology for PET plastic waste as a high-tenacity reinforcing fibre in its tires.

With some 1.6 billion car tires sold worldwide every year by all tire manufacturers combined, the amount of PET fibres used in these tires represents 800,000 tonnes of PET per year, officials with Carbios said in an April 23 news release. When applied to Michelin, “this represents nearly three billion plastic bottles per year that could be recycled into technical fibres for use in the company’s tires,” the release added.

Carbios’ enzymatic recycling process uses an enzyme capable of depolymerizing the PET contained in various plastics or textiles (bottles, trays, polyester clothing, etc.), which the company says allows infinite recycling of all types of PET waste. “It also allows the production of 100 per cent recycled and 100 per cent recyclable PET products, with the same quality as if they were produced with virgin PET,” Carbios said.

Carbios – which is headquartered in France – says it will start a demonstration plant in Clermont-Ferrand by September, where it shares headquarters space with Michelin.

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“In 2019, Carbios announced it had produced the first PET bottles with 100 per cent rPTA, made from the enzymatic recycling of post-consumer PET waste,” said Alain Marty, Carbios’ chief scientific officer. “Today, with Michelin, we are demonstrating the full extent of our process by obtaining from this same plastic waste, recycled PET that is suitable for highly technical fibres, such as those used in Michelin’s tires.”


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