Continental is making high-volume production tires using polyester yarn obtained from plastic bottles.

The first tires to feature the high-performance material include the PremiumContact 6 summer, AllSeasonContact, and EcoContact 6 summer Continental tires. They replace the polyester yarn obtained from the carcass of tires with the new recycled yarn. A single tire needs about 40 PET bottles to make enough yarn.

The first tire to feature this new material was the ContiRe.Tex which debuted in September 2021. No intermediate chemicals were used to obtain the yarn from PET bottles. This means that the technology is more efficient than conventional plastic processing methods. The bottles are obtained from regions that do not have a recycling loop.

They are sorted and cleaned through a chemical process once the caps are removed. The PET is mechanically shredded and processed into granulate before being turned into polyester yarn.

“We only use high-performance materials in our premium tires. From now on, these will include polyester yarn from PET bottles, made in a particularly efficient recycling process,” says Ferdinand Hoyos, who heads Continental’s tire replacement business in Europe, Middle East and Africa. “We brought our innovative ContiRe.Tex technology to the production stage in just eight months.

“We’re constantly expanding the share of renewable and recycled materials in our tires,” he adds. “By 2050 at the latest, we want to use only sustainable materials in our tire production.”

The new tires are being produced at Continental’s factory in Lousado, Portugal. Those with ContiRe.Tex technology feature a special logo on the sidewall written “Contains Recycled Material.”

Manufacturers have been using PET polyester yarn in light truck and passenger tire assembly for a long time. The textile cords employed help to control the forces coming from the tire’s internal pressure and maintain stability dimensionally even under high temperatures and heavy loads.