“We develop sustainability” – Case Study from Continental

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The topic of sustainability is high on the agenda at Continental Tyres. Experts from a wide variety of fields are working closely together in the research and development, testing, and production sectors to make the tyre of the future even more energy efficient and eco-friendly.

Through this process Continental’s experts call into question every tyre component and replace it if necessary with more environmentally compatible materials. The focus on greater sustainability also embraces production processes at Continental. For instance, an innovative process has been introduced to return waste rubber to the production cycle, enabling rubber from end-of-life truck tyres to be reused in production of both new and retread tyres.

The latest product to join the Continental line-up is a special tyre for hybrid vehicles that features a 30 percent drop in rolling resistance compared to a standard tyre. With this rubber fitted, hybrid models can reduce the distances covered with the help of their internal combustion engines and increase the distances covered in electric mode. The tyre developers at Continental have not had to compromise on safety-relevant properties to achieve this improved rolling resistance, as evidenced by the A ratings that the tyre has won on the EU Tyre Label for both rolling resistance and braking distances in the wet.

One aspect of Continental’s sustainability activities that has been more in the public eye is the “dandelion tyre”. Continental is cooperating with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology, IME. The objective is to use natural latex obtained from the roots of the dandelion as a commercially viable substitute for natural latex from rainforest plantations. The dandelions can even be cultivated on land that is unsuitable for food crops, so that creating “plantations beside the tyre plants” in Central Europe makes both economic and ecological sense. The short transportation distances mean a substantial drop in CO2 emissions, monocultures of rubber trees in rainforest regions can be reduced and Continental can gain a degree of immunity from the volatile prices on the global rubber market. Given that between ten and thirty percent of the rubber in a car tyre comes from the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), the benefits soon become very clear.

Continental has drawn up a case study documenting these innovative technologies and approaches to sustainability in the development and production of its tyres. The study can be downloaded from the Continental website at:

http://www.continental-tires.com/www/download/tires_de_en/themes/news/download/dl_2014_08_01_green_tires_pdf_en.pdf .