Michelin announces its first tire recycling plant

The $30 million-plus plant, in Chile, is a joint venture with the Swedish company Enviro.

Sander Vermeulench Sonia Artinian-Fredou Noémie Assenat
From left: Michelin's Sander Vermeulench, Sonia Artinian-Fredou and Noémie Assenat
Photo courtesy of Michelin

Tire producer Michelin, which is headquartered in France, has announced that it is beginning construction on its first tire recycling plant in collaboration with Enviro, a Swedish company that has developed a patented technology to recover carbon black, oil, steel and gas from end-of-life tires. The plant represents an investment of more than $30 million.

Based in Chile’s Antofagasta region, the plant will be able to recycle 30,000 tons of earthmover tires a year, which represents nearly 60 percent of these tires scrapped every year nationwide.

Work on the site begins this year, with production at the plant scheduled to get underway in 2023, according to a news release issued by Michelin.

Scrap tires will be collected directly from customer premises, then transported to the plant to be cut up and recycled.

Enviro’s technology, which produces new, high-quality reusable materials, including carbon black, pyrolysis oil, gas and steel, will enable everything in an end-of-life tire to be recovered for reuse, Michelin says.

Current plans call for 90 percent of the recovered materials to be reused in a variety of rubber-based products, such as tires, conveyor belts and anti-vibration products. The remaining 10 percent will be reused directly by the plant to generate its own-use heat and power.

Michelin says this initial recycling plant will enable it to offer a comprehensive recycling solution, from collecting end-of-life tires to reusing the recovered raw materials in the manufacture of new products.

“Thanks to this joint venture with Enviro, we are very proud to announce the construction of the Michelin Group's first recycling plant,” says Sander Vermeulen, vice president, Marketing and Business Development, Strategy and New Business for the High-Tech Materials business line. “This is a major milestone that will enable us to offer customers a new-generation recycling solution while developing new business for the group. We are currently in talks with several Chilean mining customers to sign long-term contracts. By scaling up Enviro’s technology, we are offering them a solution that will support their environmental objectives and enables the development of a circular economy.”

Michelin says the tire recycling plant is fully aligned with its commitment to incorporate more sustainable materials in its tires.

In 2020, Michelin announced an agreement to acquire a 20 percent stake in Sweden-based Enviro, which was formed in 2001. The $3.25 million investment by Michelin marked its second major foray into recycling. In 2018, Michelin acquired United States-based Lehigh Technologies and has subsequently invested to bring that firm’s scrap tires-to-micronized rubber powder process to Europe.

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