Michelin's commitment to the circular economy
In line with its purpose, the Michelin Group boasts a sustainable growth strategy which aims to enhance its customers' mobility, sustainably. Michelin's circular economy drive forms an integral part of this strategy.
The circular economy provides a means of creating wealth by using less natural resources and safeguarding the planet. Why has Michelin made it an integral part of its strategy?
Because 32 million tons of material are used each year by the tire industry, and three-quarters of this material is of fossil origin. It is worth noting that road mobility is set to double and perhaps even quadruple by 2050 compared to 2010, and there are multiple challenges: secure supplies, mitigate the impact of mobility on human health, ecosystems and natural resources, as well as limit its effects on climate change. Michelin is steadfast in its belief that one should not go against the development of mobility but rather one should market products and services which, from their design to the end of their life cycle, use less resources and minimize their adverse impact on the environment and society. We call this approach 4R, which stands for:
- Reduce: weights, CO2 emissions and the number of tires used
- Reuse: our products by repairing, regrooving and retreading them
- Recycle: tires at the end of their life cycle by recycling materials or recovering
- Renew: incorporate an increasing amount of renewable raw materials into our tire production process
Michelin strives to offer its customers lighter tires which last for longer and consume less energy.
More than 90% of the CO2 emissions generated by our products are indeed related to their use. Reducing the impact of tires on fuel consumption while improving other performance factors (grip, noise emissions, lifespan, etc.) is a key driver for reducing our CO2 emissions. Michelin goes further insofar as the Group wants to reduce the number of tires needed for covering the same number of kilometers. Michelin's circular economy model is being rolled out in the design, manufacturing and management of product and service offers as well as the use of resources in order to minimize their impact on the environment and society. Designing products boasting very high levels of performance from the first to the last kilometer forms an integral part of this virtuous approach. Using tires until the end of their life cycle would make it possible to avoid, on a yearly basis, an additional world consumption of 400 million tires, which equates to 35 million tons of CO2, or the equivalent of 6 months of CO2 emissions generated by a city like New York!
Our tires are designed to optimize materials and the use of resources. For larger tires, such as truck, earthmover and aircraft tires, the aim is to reuse them as much as possible by:
- Repairing, tires, where possible, particularly those subjected to extreme conditions of use.
- Regrooving, tires, i.e. restoring the depth of the tire grooves to extend the useful life of the tire tread, especially tires used by trucks.
- Retreading, tires, by replacing the tread (the part of the tire which is in contact with the ground) of tires used by trucks and aircraft. A tire which has an initial lifespan of 250,000 km can be used for up to 500,000 kilometers by being retread twice and regrooved once, making it possible to save 70% natural resource extraction and 24% of CO2 emissions.
Michelin is working alongside its tire experts to help to structure sectors for collecting and recycling tires at the end of their life cycle. In total, 80% of the tires marketed by Michelin have been collected and processed in each country by approved or certified sectors. In 2016, Michelin actively took part in several projects carried out within various associations it is a part of (TIP*, ETRMA**) in order to work together to find innovative solutions to recycle tires at the end of their life cycle.
In all, 25% of tire raw material is renewable, the majority of which is natural rubber. To take things a step further, Michelin has launched innovative projects with a view to developing a bio-butadiene production sector using ethanol from biomass, named BioButterfly. At the same time, Michelin is developing natural rubber supply in a sustainable and responsible way. In 2015, Michelin signed a major agreement with WWF hinged around three objectives: ensure our natural rubber supply, combat deforestation and contribute to CO2 sequestration by using rubber trees which can absorb huge amounts of carbon dioxide. In 2003, we initiated a project in Bahia, Brazil with a view to restoring primary forests and transferring to local populations the land and expertise acquired by the group related to rubber tree cultivation to ensure profitable farming and prevent rural flight. Through this project, Michelin has, in the space of more than ten years, restored 270 hectares of forest and almost 1,300 families from more than 50 nationalities have benefited from an aid program to develop new crops (bananas, cacao) on rubber tree plantations.
Tire Industry Project (a working group of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development), with the completion of a worldwide study entrusted to Deloitte which aims to eventually develop the most beneficial recycling avenues in each region of the world.
**L’ETRMA (European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers Association), RMA (Rubber Manufacturers Association), JATMA (Japan Automobile Tyre Manufacturers Association).
Through projects led with these associations.
A single, collective and innovative approach
Michelin's approach in terms of circular economy was rewarded: in 2016, Michelin was awarded the Circular Economy Grand Prize and special mention "Lutte contre le changement climatique" (Fight against climate change) at the Prix Environnement et Entreprises organized by the French government for its retreading offers and services for fleets outlined below.
Michelin is also working alongside public and private partners to consolidate its innovation drive for the benefit of increasingly "circular" products and services. Since 2014, Michelin has been a member of the "Circular Economy 100" program organized by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which aims to coordinate joint circular economy initiatives and identify the favorable conditions for its adoption.
The circular economy will be at the heart of MOVIN'ON which, on June 13, 14 and 15, 2017, will bring together 3,000 stakeholders from 35 countries: scientists, entrepreneurs, civil society stakeholders, visionaries from all backgrounds, who are able to turn ambition into action for the sustainable mobility of today and tomorrow.