Estimated demand for new tires will reach 2.7 billion in 2022
Tire tread particles are shed in the air when vehicles drive
The companies want to recycle carbon black, a key element in tire manufacturing
One of the most important ingredients used to make new tires is called carbon black and it is this element that the companies want to recycle and reuse instead of having to create it from scratch.
Carbon black (not to be confused with black carbon, the soot created by burning wood and other organic materials) is a substance used to make products stronger, longer lasting and to give them a deeper colour.
In tires, carbon black acts as a thermal conductor and a filler between layers, which makes the tires stronger and better able to face hot temperatures.
Michelin and Bridgestone say that despite the process to recycle materials from old tires is understood, only 1% of carbon black used in new tires is coming from recycled sources.
Since creating carbon black is a resource heavy process, using recycled carbon black could reduce emissions generated to produce new tires by 85% on its own.
Both companies want to establish a supply pipeline that would give manufacturers easy access to discarded tires in order to make recycling of materials easier.
Even with this method, tires will still remain a large source of pollution, since a british study on air quality found that the microplastic particulates that are emitted from tires when vehicles drive around could actually be 1,000 times more polluting than tailpipe emissions. Nevertheless, this is a step in the right direction.