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Alternative rPET application

Continental launches first tires with polyester made from recycled PET bottles

Hanover, Germany

  • Initial tire dimensions with new ContiRe.Tex technology now available
  • Technology developed in-house for greater sustainability was brought to production readiness in just a few months
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KRONES 08_22

Continental is the first tire manufacturer to immediately 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 Continental’s PremiumContact 6 and EcoContact 6 summer tires and the AllSeasonContact tire. This completely replaces the conventional polyester in the carcass of the selected tires. A set of standard passenger car tires uses the material from around 40 recycled PET bottles.

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. 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 tires. 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. I’m proud of our entire team for this remarkable achievement,” says Ferdinand Hoyos, who heads Continental’s tire replacement business in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). He adds, “We’re constantly expanding the share of renewable and recycled materials in our tires. By 2050 at the latest, we want to use only sustainable materials in our tire production.”

The first tires with recycled PET bottles now available

All tires with ContiRe.Tex technology now being produced in the upcoming market launch phase come from the Continental tire plant in Lousado, Portugal. Tires with ContiRe.Tex technology have a special logo on the sidewall (“Contains Recycled Material”).

Polyester yarn made from PET has long been used as a material in passenger and light truck tire assembly. The textile cords absorb the forces of the tire's internal pressure and remain dimensionally stable even under high loads and temperatures. To make tires even more energy-saving and environmentally friendly in manufacturing, use and recyclability, Continental is intensively researching alternative materials for tire production.

In September 2021, the premium tire 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 tire which also uses ContiRe.Tex. The support vehicles for this year’s Tour de France will also be equipped exclusively with ContiRe.Tex tires.

Continental is initially offering the PremiumContact 6, the EcoContact 6 and the AllSeasonContact with ContiRe.Tex technology in five sizes each.

www.continental.com

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(Photo credit: Continental)

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