Aware of the potential environmental impacts of end-of-life tires, the Group is actively engaged in supporting the recycling industry's development in a large number of countries, right from the end‑of-life tire collection phase. In France, for example, Michelin is one of the founding members and shareholders of Aliapur, a company that has been collecting and processing end-of-life tires for 14 years. But today, Michelin is going further.

 

Going further with disruptive technologyFocus on Lehigh Technologies

Today, Michelin is investing in and developing extremely innovative, avant-garde technology. For example, in 2017, Michelin acquired Lehigh Technologies, a US company specializing in the design and production of micronized rubber powders derived from recycled end-of-life tires and other rubber-based industrial products.

 

More recently, in 2020, through its partnership with the Swedish company Enviro, the Group demonstrated its commitment to making pyrolysis technology available on a larger scale by announcing the construction of its first plant to process end-of-life mining tires in Chile. Patented by Enviro, the technology serves to transform end-of-life tires into high-quality raw materials (carbon black, pyrolysis oil, gas or steel) that can be reused in the manufacture of new products. With this technology, Michelin is providing a brand new end-to-end recycling solution that consists of collecting end-of-life tires from mining customer sites, transporting them to the plant to be cut and then pyrolyzed, and ultimately reusing the pyrolysis products in a variety of applications, including the manufacture of new mining tires. This is what a comprehensive circular economy model looks like.

 

Focus on Lehigh Technologies

recyclage michelin

Lehigh Technologies is based in the US town of Tucker, GA, near Atlanta and has close to 100 employees. It designs and produces highly engineered recycled raw materials called micronized rubber powders (MRP), which it derives from tires and other rubber-based materials. MRP is a high-performance, long-lasting, low-cost material that can replace other non-renewable raw materials commonly used in the manufacture of tires, plastics, asphalt and construction materials. Lehigh's technology is truly a circular economy solution. Its customers include the world's leading tire manufacturers, as well as asphalt and building material specialists.

Focus on the Michelin-Enviro partnership

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Michelin has partnered with Enviro to develop and mass produce pyrolysis technology. A Swedish start-up of 20 employees founded in 2001, Enviro developed a technology to modify the chemical composition and physical phase of tire material during the pyrolysis process, while keeping energy consumption to a minimum. This highly innovative technology serves to manufacture high-quality products such as recovered carbon black, pyrolysis oil, steel and gas, which can then be re‑incorporated into the production cycle of various industries.

 

There are four key aspects to the Michelin-Enviro partnership:

  • A development agreement to roll out Enviro’s pyrolysis technology on a larger scale
  • Michelin's acquisition of a 20% stake in Enviro. Michelin is now the company’s largest shareholder and will help to drive its growth through its membership on the board.
  • The construction of a plant to scale up the technology in Chile, for the processing of end-of-life mining tires
  • A supply agreement between Michelin and Enviro.

 

Driving faster progress by pooling know-how

 

The partnership will pool the complementary know-how of the two companies to drive faster progress in tire recycling. Michelin will bring its industrial expertise to the plant construction project and its know-how in research and development and production. Enviro will bring its patented pyrolysis technology, which will be used to manufacture high-quality products.

Did you know...

Recycling end-of-life tires is a major challenge for the tire industry and its customers. Around one billion tires reach the end of their useful lives each year. Recycling is part of a holistic process that includes collecting end-of-life tires, sorting them and giving them a new purpose. Around 65% of them are collected for some form of reuse, roughly 70% are recycled to recover their materials, and the remaining 30% are generally used for energy recovery.

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