Continental announced it is the first tyre manufacturer to launch volume production of recycled polyester yarn which is obtained from PET plastic bottles in a new process. The new high-performance material will first be used in selected sizes for the company’s PremiumContact 6 and EcoContact 6 summer tyres and the AllSeasonContact tire. This completely replaces the conventional polyester in the carcass of the selected tyres. A set of standard passenger car tyres uses the material from around 40 recycled PET bottles, said the company.
In September 2021, Continental unveiled the inhouse ContiRe.Tex technology for the first time. It uses polyester yarn, which is obtained from used PET bottles without any intermediate chemical steps and not recycled in any other way. Continental claims that this makes the technology much more efficient than other standard methods for processing PET bottles into high-performance polyester yarns.
The bottles used for the technology come exclusively from regions without a closed recycling loop. As part of a special recycling process, the bottles are sorted and mechanically cleaned, after the caps are removed. After mechanical shredding, the PET is further processed into granulate and finally spun polyester yarn.
“We only use high-performance materials in our premium tyres. From now on, these will include polyester yarn from PET bottles, made in a particularly efficient recycling process. We brought our innovative ContiRe.Tex technology to the production stage in just eight months,” said Ferdinand Hoyos, who heads Continental’s tyre replacement business in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). He adds, “We’re constantly expanding the share of renewable and recycled materials in our tyres. By 2050 at the latest, we want to use only sustainable materials in our tyre production.”
Polyester yarn made from PET has long been used as a material in passenger and light truck tyre assembly. The textile cords absorb the forces of the tyre's internal pressure and remain dimensionally stable even under high loads and temperatures. To make tyres even more energy-saving and environmentally friendly in manufacturing, use and recyclability, Continental said it is “intensively researching” alternative materials for tyre production.
In September 2021, the tyre manufacturer debuted the Conti GreenConcept, using polyester from recycled plastic bottles in the carcass, at IAA MOBILITY. For the second season of the all-electric Extreme E racing series, which opened in February 2022, Continental has developed a tyre which also uses ContiRe.Tex. The support vehicles for this year’s Tour de France will also be equipped exclusively with ContiRe.Tex tyres.