Michelin’s big goal is to become a 100% fully sustainable tyre manufacturer by 2050, and it has just tested and validated the use of a high tenacity fibre that is made from recycled plastic. The new material was derived from Carbios’ enzymatic recycling process for petroleum-based PolyEthylene Terephthalate (PET) plastic waste, a new innovative way of recycling all types of PET waste.

Carbios, a company pioneering bio-industrial solutions to give reinvent the lifecycle of plastic and textile polymers, said the recycled PET (RPET) products can be made with virtually the same quality and performance, as if they were produced with virgin PET.

According to Michelin, the application of PET enzymatic recycling in car tyres is a world first, and Carbios’ is able to produce the technical fibres that meets Michelin’s tyre requirements. It’s suitable for use in tyres due to its breakage resistance, toughness, and thermal stability.

Michelin director of polymer research, Nicolas Seeboth said: “We are very proud to be the first to have produced and tested recycled technical fibres for tyres. These reinforcements were made from colored bottles and recycled using the enzymatic technology of our partner, Carbios.”

Every year, 1.6 billion car tyres are sold worldwide (by all tyre manufacturers combined). The PET fibres used in these tyres represent 800,000 tonnes of PET per year. That’s the equivalent of nearly three billion plastic bottles per year that could be recycled into technical fibres, which Michelin can use to make new tyres.