Continental introduces first tyres with polyester from rPET

Continental introduces first tyres with polyester from rPET

German firm Continental says it is the first tyre manufacturer to immediately launch volume production of recycled polyester yarn, obtained from PET plastic bottles in a new process. The new 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,” says Ferdinand Hoyos, who heads Continental’s tyre replacement business in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

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 logo on the sidewall (“Contains Recycled Material”).

first tyres with polyester from rPET

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 says it is researching alternative materials for tyre production.

In September 2021, it debuted the Conti GreenConcept, using polyester from recycled plastic bottles in the carcass. For the second season of the all-electric Extreme E racing series, which opened in February 2022, 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.