Tyre maker Bridgestone says it has produced a run of demonstration tyres made with 75% recycled and renewable materials, including synthetic rubber made with recycled plastics and natural rubber harvested from desert shrubs grown domestically, in the Arizona desert, US. The company has completed production of 200 demonstration tyres and is pursuing joint evaluation with automakers for use on the next generation of electrified SUVs and crossovers (CUVs).
Bridgestone Global CEO, Shuichi Ishibashi, had also recently said that Bridgestone is pursuing a tyre design utilizing 90% recycled and renewable materials for passenger cars.
Designed and engineered at Bridgestone’s Americas Technology Centre in Akron, Ohio, the new tyres were produced at the company’s Aiken County Passenger/Light Truck Radial Tire Plant in Graniteville, South Carolina. The Aiken plant is the first tyre manufacturing facility in America to earn International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) PLUS certification for transparency and traceability of sustainable raw materials including bio, bio-circular and circular-based material. Aiken also operates an on-site, 8-acre solar array that provides renewable energy to aid in powering the plant’s manufacturing operations.
“As we progress in our transformation to a sustainable solutions company, we are making incredible progress in the use of recycled and renewable materials to bring sustainable tire technology from the drawing board to the driveway,” said Paolo Ferrari, President/CEO, Bridgestone Americas.
“The production and deployment of a 75-percent recycled and renewable materials tyre technology marks a significant milestone as we accelerate our progress toward using fully sustainable materials in our products by 2050.”
The tyres contain a multitude of materials derived from recycled and biobased feedstocks. These include recycled monomer, produced with recycled materials including plastic bottles, to create the synthetic rubber in the tyre as well as recycled steel, recycled carbon black, TPO-derived carbon black, and bio-based carbon black. Multiple materials are ISCC Plus certified.
The new tyre is the first street tyre to utilise natural rubber derived from the guayule desert shrub cultivated at Bridgestone’s guayule R&D agricultural facility in Eloy, Arizona. Bridgestone has spent more than ten years and over US$100 million on the R&D of guayule as an alternative to imported natural rubber from the Hevea Brasiliensis tree grown mainly in Southeast Asia. Guayule can serve as an alternative to existing crops, such as alfalfa and cotton, in America’s drought-stricken desert southwest, requiring as little as half the water to cultivate.
Guayule is part of Bridgestone’s plan to achieve carbon neutrality and make tyres from 100% sustainable materials by 2050. The company is targeting commercial production of guayule-derived natural rubber by the end of the decade.