German firm Continental claims to have the first sustainable series tyre to date, the UltraContact NXT, with up to 65% renewable, recycled and mass balance certified materials. It adds that it is the first manufacturer to launch a tyre with both a high share of sustainable materials and maximum EU tire-label performance in volume production. All 19 sizes available will carry the highest possible rating (“A”) of the EU tyre label in rolling resistance, wet braking, and exterior noise. The UltraContact NXT will be available for tyre dealers in Europe this July.
“At Continental, safety, performance, and sustainability go hand in hand. With the UltraContact NXT, we deliver on our ambitious sustainability goals. This development represents a significant leap forward and demonstrates our technological leadership as well as our strong commitment to both sustainability and safety,” says Ferdinand Hoyos, Head of Continental’s Business Area Replacement Tires EMEA. He adds: “With its impressive performance, the UltraContact NXT pushes sustainability to the NXT level.”
Depending on its tire size, the UltraContact NXT is made from up to 65% renewable, recycled and mass balance certified materials. Renewable materials stand up to 32%. The proportion of recycled materials is up to 5%. Furthermore, Continental sourced an amount of up to 28% ISCC PLUS mass balance approach certified materials from bio, bio-circular and/or circular feedstock.
Renewable materials account for up to 32% of the UltraContact NXT. This includes resins based on residual materials from the paper and wood industries. Used in tyres, resins allow highly flexible compounds to improve the material’s grip. The Ultra Contact NXT contains silicate from the ash of rice husks. Rice husks are an agricultural waste product which may be processed into silica through a new, less energy consuming process. Silica helps to optimise characteristics such as grip, rolling resistance and tyre life.
As in every tyre, natural rubber is a key material of the UltraContact NXT. It remains indispensable as it ensures the highest tyre performance properties because of its elevated level of strength and durability.
The special logo “contains recycled materials” on the sidewall of the UltraContact NXT underlines the use of recycled materials in this tyre line. The share of recycled material stands at up to 5%. It includes recycled rubber material, which comes from mechanically processed end-of-life tyres. In addition, Continental is using recycled steel in the UltraContact NXT. The already presented innovative ContiRe.Tex technology has also been adopted for the UltraContact NXT.
It generates high-performance polyester fibres used to reinforce the tyre carcass through recycling PET bottles, which otherwise would have ended up in incinerators or landfills. With the ContiRe.Tex technology, Continental says it has developed a more energy-efficient and eco-friendly alternative that allows it to recycle between nine and fifteen plastic bottles for each tyre, depending on the tire size.
Continental is aiming for fully circular operations in its tyre production by 2050 at the latest.
For the UltraContact NXT, Continental uses up to 28% ISCC PLUS mass balance certified materials. These are sustainable synthetic rubber and carbon black made from biobased, bio-circular and/or circular feedstock. Synthetic rubber is a performance-defining ingredient of modern passenger car tyres, as its properties can be engineered specifically for its application. Carbon black is used in rubber compounds to optimize stability, strength, and durability of tires. The ISCC PLUS certified balance mechanism ensures transparency and traceability throughout the supply chain by tracking the origin and characteristics of raw materials, verifying compliance with sustainable criteria, and certifying the resulting products.
Continental adds that by 2030 it is targeting to have over 40% renewable and recycled content in its tyres and to drive towards 100% sustainable materials in all its tyre products by 2050 the latest.