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Continental combines retreading and recycling

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Continental combines retreading and recycling

During its press conference at the 2012 International Motor Show (also known as IAA Commercial Vehicles) in Hannover, Germany, Continental AG announced that it is establishing a new retread plant for truck and bus tires -- and a facility to recycle rubber from used tires -- at its headquarters in Hannover-Stöcken.

The facility is the first of its kind worldwide and makes use of the synergies between the retreading and recycling production processes. With an investment of more than 10 million Euros ($13.2 million), Continental is strengthening its position in western Europe and further developing its ContiLifeCycle approach in production.

“In the face of limited raw materials, we see it as our obligation to come up with sustainable solutions in tire production and retreading," said Dr. Andreas Esser, head of the Commercial Vehicle Tires Business Unit.

"We are now able to process used tread buffings and ground end-of-life tires in such a steered and controlled way that it can be reused in the production of new and retreaded tires."

According to Continental, 41% of so-called end-of-life tires (ELT) in the European Union are used for incineration in the cement industry. Another 35% of these ELT are being “downcycled” and subsequently used in low stress technical rubber goods, such as molded rubber products.

Continental has developed a new recycling process that allows high shares of recycled rubber in compounds for new and retreaded tires. By implementing Continental’s new approach, the amount of recycled rubber in a tire can be doubled.

“This marks the next step in optimizing the utilization of raw materials in tire production," said Dr. Boris Mergell, vice president of material and process development and industrialization. "Considering the planned recycling volume of approximately 4,000 tons annually, this results in the conservation of approximately 2,400 tons of rubber and 1,600 tons of carbon black and silica.”

The new retreading factory will start production together with the recycling factory in 2013. The projected annual capacity will be 180,000 retreaded tires once full capacity is reached.

“The ContiLifeCycle plant will serve as a competence center for retread, by making use of the unique interdisciplinary setup of Continental Tires at that location, hosting R&D, manufacturing, production engineering as well as quality management departments," said Christian Sass, director of retread business. "This setup enables us to swiftly react to learnings from the production process and thus continuously improve our product."

ContiLifeCycle is an integrated concept that provides customers with an efficient and sustainable service solution. From new tires, regrooving, casing-management to retreading, ContiLifeCycle offers each customer a tailor-made solution to achieve the lowest overall driving costs for their fleet, making use of the full tire over its lifetime.

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