Cologne: 04.–06.06.2024 #thetirecologne

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Sustainable concepts in the tyre industry

Tire to Tire: On the way to a circular economy

Over one billion motor vehicles were registered worldwide in 2023. Sustainable production and recycling processes are therefore a key topic for the tyre industry. The industry has been working on intelligent concepts for the disposal, retreading and recycling of used tyres for some time now. The long-term goal is an efficient circular economy.

Sustainable production and recycling processes are a focus topic for the tyre industry. © Goh Rhy Yan auf unsplash

Sustainable recycling processes for tyres (Bild: Goh Rhy Yan, unsplash)

Extending the service life

The first option for recycling tyres is to extend their service life. Tyres that are still structurally sound can be reused by regrooving the tread grooves. In the past, re-cutting tyres had to be done laboriously by hand. Today, semi-automatic machines are available for this purpose. The mileage of commercial vehicle tyres can thus be significantly extended. A regrooved tyre also consumes less fuel, which has a positive effect on the carbon footprint.

Analysing the life cycle

Tyre analysis is an important step towards efficient reuse.

RFID technology integrated into tyres enables a comprehensive view of the entire tyre life cycle, including recycling. In combination with modern analysis software, various aspects of tyre life and retreading can be managed. RFID technology is already being used in truck tyres and motorsport and is now to be increasingly integrated into light vehicle tyres.

Waste tyre recycling plant (Bild: © Michelin Reifenwerke AG & Co. KGaA / Scandinavian Enviro Systems AB)

Waste tyre recycling plant based on pyrolysis technology. © Michelin Reifenwerke AG & Co. KGaA / Scandinavian Enviro Systems AB

Recycling along the supply chain

Recycling tyres is crucial for their sustainable production. Rubber and various plastics can be efficiently recycled using new thermolysis systems. Technologies developed in collaboration with researchers now enable recycling along the entire supply chain. Recycled materials such as polyester from old PET bottles or agricultural waste are also making up a growing proportion of tyre material. Some new models already consist largely of recycled materials.

Recycling of raw materials

The successful recycling of used tyres is an important step towards a circular economy. For a complete production cycle, the individual components of tyres such as rubber, plastic or steel must be separated and processed. Today, chemical recycling methods such as pyrolysis are being further developed for this purpose. The steel wire is extracted, the tyres are shredded in several stages and the rubber granulate is vaporised in a reactor so that the remaining components can be used as raw materials again.

Retreading of used tyres (Bild: © Koelnmesse GmbH)

In 2024, THE TIRE COLOGNE will focus even more strongly on the topic of tyre retreading and sustainability. © Koelnmesse GmbH

Pioneering innovations

Innovative methods are giving new impetus to the development of a circular economy in the tyre industry. Cleantech companies are working on combining pyrolysis and distillation technologies to close the resource cycle. Pyrolysis oil could be an alternative to fossil fuels in the future. Innovations in production efficiency and energy saving in conjunction with the use of automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning are also expected in the future.

THE TIRE COLOGNE 2024 focuses on the circular economy (Bild: © Koelnmesse GmbH)

With the Circular Economy area, THE TIRE COLOGNE 2024 will focus on the circular economy. © Koelnmesse GmbH

Circular Economy Area

The upcoming THE TIRE COLOGNE from 4 to 6 June 2024 will show what a circular tyre economy could look like in concrete terms. In the central exhibition hall 7, the Circular Economy Area will offer a platform for retreading and efficient recycling. Together with partners, the Alliance Future Tyres (AZuR) will present various phases of the circular economy: from sustainable new tyre production and retreading to material and chemical recycling. A forum with various expert panels and panel discussions will also encourage the exchange of new solutions - important impulses for the further development of a sustainable tyre industry.

Author: Leif Hallerbach I Broekman+Partner