Green Tires and Decarbonizing the Industry

Autosphere » Tires » Green Tires and Decarbonizing the Industry
The Michelin plant in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. Photo Michelin Canada

The tire industry is not immune to environmental concerns, and the commitment of some manufacturers to reducing their carbon footprint involves innovation in manufacturing processes and the design of greener tires.

Tire manufacturers are pursuing their own environmental strategies. On the whole, however, they are working together to tackle environmental issues.

An illustration of this commitment is the creation of the Tire Industry Project, under the aegis of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, by ten leading tire manufacturers. In this project, launched in 2005, Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear, Hankook, Kumho, Michelin, Pirelli, Sumitomo, Toyo and Yokohama are working together to find sustainable solutions for the industry throughout the tire life cycle. Fields of research include topics such as end-of-life tire management, particles emanating from tire wear, and the development of sustainable natural rubber.

Research also includes the industry’s potential impact on human health. An expert committee analyzes the results and guides the group’s work.

We asked two of the members of this project to explain to our readers how their environmental commitment had an impact on production technologies.

Towards carbon-neutral production

Bridgestone says it has obtained SBT certification for the reduction of its CO2 emissions by 2030. The manufacturer maintains its carbon neutrality objectives by reducing its emissions. To achieve this, it intends to improve the energy efficiency of its production process and turn more to renewable energies.

The Japanese manufacturer also told Autosphere, through its North American operations communications department, that this commitment affects the entire product value chain, from the choice of raw materials for manufacturing through to tire recycling and distribution.

The same source gives concrete examples of this commitment, noting for example its objective that by 2030 its factories will be supplied exclusively by green electricity. In its North American production, this has led to the installation of solar panels on factories.

Promoting efficiency

Even more concretely, the launch of ENLITEN tires for electric vehicles in July 2023 is directly in line with the manufacturer’s desire to make a global contribution to reducing CO2 emissions by optimizing the efficiency of these vehicles.

This technology helps increase EV range and efficiency by reducing rolling resistance. What’s more, they are lighter, requiring fewer raw materials to manufacture, while offering the same resistance to wear as equivalent tires.

In its information sharing, Bridgestone also mentions offering digital solutions to its customers in order to forecast vehicle maintenance, but also, naturally, the level of tire wear.

Andrew Mutch, President of Michelin North America. Photo Michelin Canada

Michelin Canada’s President, Andrew Mutch, took the time to answer our questions. He opens the discussion by explaining that Michelin is committed to being a zero-emission company by 2050 and is developing several approaches to achieve this.

“In our manufacturing, after years of progress, we’re looking at how we can further improve our energy efficiency. In our Canadian plants, we’re looking at it in a number of ways, from improving lighting equipment to quickly repairing compressed air leaks, from switching to AC motors instead of DC versions to optimizing our ventilation, heating and air-conditioning systems,” explains Mutch.

Watch the whole chain

The French manufacturer also considers that sourcing and distribution issues also play an important role in CO2 emissions, and is on track to achieve its target of a 28% drop in emissions by 2030.

“We know that reducing the environmental impact of transportation involves much more than just the tire industry. We must therefore recognize the important role companies like Michelin play in the long-term accompaniment of transformative shifts such as electrification,” says the President of Michelin Canada. “In early 2023, we announced a $300 million investment in our Nova Scotia facilities, including the installation of equipment to manufacture tires for the growing electric vehicle market.”

Asked about the use of greener or natural components in the tire manufacturing process, Mutch says the parent company’s goal is to include 40% renewable or recycled material in its tires by 2030. This percentage should reach 100% by 2050. To illustrate this direction, he mentions the unveiling in June 2023, at the Le Mans 24 Hours, of a tire made from 63% such materials. “Its composition included natural rubber, vegetable oils and resins derived from lemon bark and resinous trees.”

Extending the life of your tires

In the case of tires for heavy vehicles, the ability to retread the tread is a common practice among manufacturers. This practice gives the tire up to four times more life.

As Mutch points out, Michelin’s efforts to help reduce CO2 emissions are long-standing and will continue into the future.

“We launched our first rolling resistance tire in the early 1990s, the Green X. More recently, taking advantage of our Formula E experience, we launched the Michelin Pilot Sport EV. We will continue these efforts to ensure that our industry works to ensure that mobility and sustainability progress together for the benefit of all.”

Quebec-based Techno-Pneu has developed an approach that recovers the value of used tires. Photo Techno-Pneu

Giving tires a second life

One example of technologies applied to tire manufacturing with a view to reducing the industry’s carbon footprint is tire remoulding. A telling example of this can be found in a conversation with Dave Ringuette, Operations Manager at Techno Pneu. The Rimouski-based company has been developing a technique for reusing tires at the end of their useful life for decades.

“We’re on the road to the future,” says Ringuette. “We rigorously select end-of-life tires, process them, remould them and market them as high-quality new tires. This process reduces the need for oil in tire manufacturing by over 60%. What’s more, 90% of the tires we recycle come from Quebec.”

Techno-Pneu’s manufacturing process is based on constant quality control. Photo Techno-Pneu


The method used by Techno Pneu is to carefully select used tires suitable for remoulding, according to their age, condition and size. Chosen for rebirth undergo inspections by experienced technicians who will determine whether the carcass has been damaged by impact, whether the tire has suffered an apparent puncture, or whether its sidewalls are punctured.

The tire will also be checked by a specialized machine, which will analyze the assembly in depth to ensure that there is no delamination of the layers of its structure. And that’s not all: the remoulding candidate will then be placed in a device that will determine whether it has suffered a puncture.

“We use state-of-the-art equipment at the selection stage,” says Ringuette. Consumers need to understand that the quality of remoulded tires leaves nothing to chance.

An automated machine will grate selected tires according to precise parameters to remove tread and rubber from the sidewalls. Rebuilding begins with another machine covering the prepared carcass with a layer of new rubber. This rubber is formulated to meet specific application requirements, and varies depending on whether it is intended for the sidewalls or the tread.

Techno-Pneus remoulds tires to bring quality tires to market at more affordable prices. Photo Techno-Pneus


Before going to the mould, the tire is pre-balanced. This is achieved by adding rubber weights, which are then fused to the tire during the moulding process. This step, which has been added to the manufacturing process, will make balancing the tire much easier.

Finally, the tire is put through a curing press to give it its final shape. The tire undergoes a final quality inspection before being labelled and stored.

“We sell directly to workshops and dealers,” explains Dave Ringuette. “Demand is very strong, as more and more consumers are concerned about the environment. What’s more, our tires are on average 30% to 40% less expensive than their equivalents from the major manufacturers. And the consumer doesn’t have to pay any environmental taxes, since our products have already been taxed in their first life.”



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