Continental has become the first tire 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 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.
Unveiled in September 2021, Continental’s ContiRe.Tex technology uses polyester yarn obtained from used PET bottles without any intermediate chemical steps, making the technology 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,” said Ferdinand Hoyos, who heads Continental’s tire replacement business in Europe, Middle East and Africa. “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.”
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.
In September 2021, Conti debuted the GreenConcept, using polyester from recycled plastic bottles in the carcass. 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.