Goodyear is showing off a new tire made with 90% sustainable materials, like soybean oil and rice husks. Plans are for a 70% sustainable material tire to go on sale later this year.
Automakers keep finding ways to reduce vehicle emissions, working on plans to use more recycled and renewable materials in their vehicles. But some common car parts are still full of toxic and tough-to-recycle materials. Tires are one of the most significant tough-to-recycle materials.
They’re also a wear item that needs replacing every few years, and there are at least four of them on every car, truck, and SUV. There’s a lot of room to make a difference where the rubber meets the road.
Innovative Materials Sourcing Saves Emissions
To help hit its sustainability targets, Goodyear has had to think outside the circle when it comes to sourcing raw materials. The 90% tire has 17 featured ingredients and 12 different components — all of which are being sourced in new ways that should be better for the planet.
Carbon black reinforces the tire compound and increases tire life. It’s an important ingredient in every tire, and they get it by burning oil. This more sustainable tire uses four types of carbon black, generated from methane, CO2, plant-based oils, and oil made from recycled tires. Goodyear says the new ingredients deliver the necessary performance and reduce carbon emissions.
Soybean oil replaces much of the petroleum-based oil previously used to keep the tire pliable when temperatures change. Goodyear says that while nearly all soy protein is used for food and animal feed, there is “a significant surplus of oil left over for industrial use. It’s also grown from a plant, not pulled from the ground.”
Other material highlights include silica that comes from rice husk waste. Instead of mining for silica, it now comes from a product that would have ended up in a landfill.
Polyester for reinforcement comes from recycled bottles, and pine tree resins are replacing petroleum-based resins.
Sustainable Rubber: An Important Part
Of course, much of a tire comes from natural rubber, which is already a sustainable and renewable resource. Or at least it can be. The tire industry uses 70% of the world’s natural rubber, says Goodyear.
The company says it is in alignment with the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber‘s sustainability practices. That helps ensure the rubber used is as sustainable and ethically sourced as possible.
While many concept tires never go beyond the concept stage, this isn’t a moonshot idea. Goodyear says its 90% sustainable concept tire has passed all regulatory testing. It has also passed the company’s internal tests, and Goodyear found it to have lower rolling resistance than a standard tire. That means even more potential CO2 reductions and increased range for EVs.
Goodyear 70% Sustainable Tires On Sale This Year
Goodyear is setting some immediate targets for the production of more sustainable tires. The 70% sustainable material tire it announced last year is expected to go into production this year. The company even has a site set up for anyone interested in buying its sustainable tires when they’re ready.
The 90% tire will take more work. Goodyear says it will need “further collaboration with the company’s supply base.” The issue isn’t finding the products but sourcing them in the volumes needed for mass production.
The overall goal is to make a 100% sustainable tire, and the company says it wants to do that by 2030.
“The past year was a pivotal one toward achieving this (2030) goal,” said Goodyear Tires CTO Chris Helsel. “We researched new technologies, identified opportunities for further collaboration and utilized our team’s tenacity to not only demonstrate our capabilities to produce a 90% sustainable-material tire but to also produce a tire with up to 70% sustainable-material content this year.”