Globally, an estimated one billion tires reach the end of their useful life each and every year. Many of the technical challenges surrounding the use of recycled or recovered materials from end-of-life tires are well understood, but significant barriers remain in achieving material circularity at a scale that is necessary to realize a cleaner and more sustainable mobility ecosystem. This is a problem Bridgestone and Michelin are working to solve.
Bridgestone and Michelin have released a position paper focused on their joint initiative to increase the use of recovered carbon black. The position paper outlines the reasoning behind this important call to action and the goals both Bridgestone and Michelin plan to achieve through this collaboration.
During the Smithers Recovered Carbon Black Conference on November 22-23, 2021 in Amsterdam, Bridgestone and Michelin delivered a joint perspective on the potential opportunities related to increasing use of recovered carbon black from end-of-life tires in new tire production. The two companies also outlined initial ideas for how the tire industry can work across a diverse group of global stakeholders as a crucial next step in achieving a circular economy for tires.
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As Bridgestone and Michelin work to achieve a circular economy and increase recycled materials in new tires, the two companies have identified a shared point of view regarding the importance of increasing the quality, quantity and utilization of recovered carbon black material. It will take partnerships across all aspects of the value chain to accelerate the supply pipeline of this sustainable material. The joint presentation at the Smithers Recovered Carbon Black conference in Amsterdam is a first step and call to action toward fostering stakeholder collaboration and discussion around the rCB.
Bridgestone and Michelin have separately outlined ambitious sustainability commitments to move the tire industry toward a more sustainable and carbon neutral future. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development estimates each year more than one billion tires arrive at the end of their service life on the road. Creating more sustainable end uses for tires is of critical importance for the health and well-being of future generations and is fundamental to the ongoing efforts of Bridgestone and Michelin to realize a more sustainable tire economy and mobility future.
This initiative led by Bridgestone and Michelin is not centered on investment, but instead focuses on creating a needed dialogue about utilization of recovered carbon black material across the tire and rubber value chain. Bridgestone and Michelin are competitors who each have their own unique perspective concerning investment.
Bridgestone has made a minority investment in Delta Energy Group, a market leader in material recovery from end-of-life tires and a supplier of recovered carbon black material to the company’s Americas business. Bridgestone continues to study and explore ways to scale this technology. Beyond that, there is nothing more specific in terms of future investment that we can detail at this time.
Michelin has partnered with Enviro to develop and industrialize on a large scale an innovative pyrolysis technology to recycle tires at the end of their life. Michelin also participates in consortiums dedicated to the circular economy, such as the European consortium behind the BlackCycle project. Coordinated by Michelin and funded by the EU, this project brings together 13 public and private organizations with the aim of creating, developing and optimizing a full value chain for end-of-life tires by recycling them.
Using recovered carbon black in new tires reduces CO2 emissions from carbon black production by 85% compared to virgin materials. Less than 1% of all carbon black used today in new tire production globally is recovered. Increasing rCB utilization by substituting vCB 10% would reduce CO2 emissions globally by up 2M Tons of CO² annually.
Recovered carbon black is a promising substitute for virgin carbon black material as it offers more sustainable performance with minimal tradeoffs. Increased utilization of recovered carbon black material in new tires will significantly reduce CO2 emissions from carbon black production, but there are significant obstacles to increasing utilization of this material due to a lacking supply pipeline of recovered carbon black. It will take partnership and collaboration among various stakeholders across the value chain to enhance the supply pipeline of recovered carbon black material. By partnering with other tire manufacturers, carbon black suppliers and emerging recovered carbon black technology companies, Bridgestone and Michelin believe they can foster this discussion and accelerate progress.
Michelin and Bridgestone are beginning the process to draft and publish a white paper in the first half of 2022. The white paper will present the preferred characteristics for recovered carbon black use in tires, as well as focus areas to be addressed to overcome current limitations an to allow a wider usage of recovered carbon black. In addition to the white paper, Bridgestone and Michelin will begin to facilitate a dialogue with stakeholders across the value chain interested in joining this initiative.