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Continental rolls out first tyres with polyester from recycled PET bottles

Continental has become the first tyre manufacturer to launch at volume tyres with polyester yarn obtained from recycled plastic PET bottles.

The new high-performance material will first be used in selected sizes for Continental’s PremiumContact 6 and EcoContact 6 summer tyres and the AllSeasonContact tyre. This completely replaces the conventional polyester in the carcass of the selected tyres. A set of standard passenger car tyres uses the material from around 40 recycled PET bottles.

In September 2021, Continental unveiled the inhouse ContiRe.Tex technology for the first time. It uses polyester yarn, which is obtained from used PET bottles without any intermediate chemical steps and not recycled in any other way. This makes the technology much 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 tyres. 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 tyre replacement business in EMEA.

He added: “We’re constantly expanding the share of renewable and recycled materials in our tyres. By 2050 at the latest, we want to use only sustainable materials in our tyre production.”

All tyres with ContiRe.Tex technology now being produced in the upcoming market launch phase come from the Continental tyre plant in Lousado, Portugal. Tyres with ContiRe.Tex technology have a special “Contains Recycled Material” logo on the sidewall.

Polyester yarn made from PET has long been used as a material in passenger and light truck tyre assembly. The textile cords absorb the forces of the tyre’s internal pressure and remain dimensionally stable even under high loads and temperatures. To make tyres even more energy-saving and environmentally friendly in manufacturing, use and recyclability, Continental states it is intensively researching alternative materials for tyre production.

Last September, Continental debuted the Conti GreenConcept which uses polyester from recycled plastic bottles in the carcass. For the second season of the all-electric Extreme E racing series, which opened this February, Continental has developed a tyre which also uses ContiRe.Tex. The support vehicles for this year’s Tour de France will also be equipped exclusively with ContiRe.Tex tyres.

Continental is initially offering the PremiumContact 6, the EcoContact 6 and the AllSeasonContact with ContiRe.Tex technology in five sizes each.