Tire giant Continental announced last week that it is planning to move towards the standards of a circular economy by using recycled plastic bottles to produce tires. As we see more companies hopping on to this trend, is it really enough?
Once, recycling used to be an activity that was associated with environmentally conscious individuals and household products like milk cartons. Now, large corporations are actively pushing for a more sustainable circular economy by recycling and repurposing certain products to extend its life cycle.
In conjunction with the principles of circular economy, Continental announced its plans to use reprocessed polyester derived from polyethylene terephthalate [PET] bottles to produce tires from 2022. Polyester is one of the key raw materials used in tire production. To make a full set of vehicle tires, more than 60 PET bottles are required. As for performance, based on the lab and road tests done by Continental, tires manufactured using recycled PET bottles achieved the same level of capabilities as those manufactured from traditional raw materials.
Continental's head of materials, process development and industrialization for tires, Andreas Topp said in a press release that "With the use of recycled polyester yarn, we are taking another important step in the direction of cross-product circular economy."
A linear economy is where raw materials are used to manufacture products which eventually become waste after their utility. In contrast, a circular economy is where products are recycled, repurposed and reused to ultimately tackle climate change. According to the World Economic Forum, the circular economy is projected to yield economic benefits of more than $4.5 trillion (€3.8 trillion) by 2030.