The materials the Bridgestone Group currently uses in its products can be classified into three categories: renewable materials, non-renewable materials, and recycled materials. In addition to reducing raw material consumption, the Group is promoting the reuse of resources, use of recycled and renewable raw materials toward the goal of using “100% sustainable materials” as the long-term environmental vision for 2050 and beyond.
Environment | Value natural resources
Action2: Recycle resources & use effectively
The Group is developing a global retread service in which it collects worn out tires from customers, replaces the worn tread, and delivers tires that are again ready for use. Retreading tires can contribute to improved resource productivity and reduced CO2 emissions. Based on the premise that Bridgestone retreaded tires are used three times by a customer, versus the use of three new tires raw materials used and CO2 emissions generated during the entire life cycle, excluding the use phase, can be reduced by half. By providing solutions that combine multiple retreads based on the Group’s unique technology, Dan-Totsu Products, and appropriate maintenance, the Group maximizes the asset value of tires, as well as provide social and customer value of safety, cost efficiency, productivity and environmental sustainability.
Retread tires reuse the resource of tires casing by replacing the worn tread rubber (areas that come into contact with the road surface). Retread tires use less than one-third the amount of raw materials used in new tires and enable the reuse of other tire components (casing). The retreading solution significantly contributes to the reduction of discarded tires as well as the reduction of waste in communities.
* Calculated a case of TBR General tyres (275/80R22.5) based on “Tyre LCCO2 Calculation Guidelines Ver. 3.0.1” (The Japan Automobile Tyre Manufacturers Association, Inc., December 2021)
Retreading aircraft tires
The Group has been developing retreads for aircraft tires since 1955. Today, the Group provides customers worldwide with products and services that excel in environmental performance, safety and economy from its five retreading plants around the globe.
While meeting the stringent performance requirements of aircraft manufacturers, the Group designs aircraft tires so that they can be retreaded after use. The tires are returned when standard wear and tear are observed due to repeated takeoffs and landings and are retreaded at the Group retreading plants. The tread of main wheel bias tires of an aircraft typically wears out after about 200 takeoffs and landings, while the tread of main wheel radial tires typically wears out after about 350 takeoffs and landings*1. In general, bias tires may be retreaded up to 6 times and radial tires up to 3 times, which means each tire can potentially make a total of about 1,400 takeoffs and landings during its product life*2.
The Group inspects returned tires on a number of requirements across the retreading process to deliver to its customers only retreaded tires that have successfully passed non-destructive testing at the final inspection. These retreaded tires provide the same product performance and meet the safety standards as new tires.
- Number of takeoff and landings for the treads of main wheel bias tires and main wheel radial tires varies depending on the aircraft model.
- Number of total takeoff and landings for the treads and retreads of main wheel bias tires and main wheel radial tires varies depending on the aircraft model.
Off the road tire repairs
Mining is one of the toughest jobs for a tire. A super-sized dump truck is 260 tons of vehicle carrying 370 tons of ore. With six tires to support up to 600 tons, that means a single tire could be carrying as much as 100 tons. The largest off the road tire used for mining is 4 meters in diameter and weighs up to 5 tons. Tires are disposed when they are no longer usable because the treads are worn-out during the mine operations. In addition, if a tire fails due to driving over sharp rocks or obstacles, the tire is disposed at that time because it is no longer usable, even if it still has enough tread rubber, which is a significant waste of resources.
The Bridgestone Off the Road Tire Repair contributes to reduce tire consumption and save natural resources by extending the life of damaged tires. Since 1999, Bridgestone Mining Solutions Australia (BMSA) has provided OTR tire repairs to customers across Australia. The Bridgestone Repair System delivers the highest level of safety, quality, durability and viability in every repair.
BMSA operates six repair facilities nationally. These facilities have a combined annual capacity to produce approximately 5,000 repairs per year. In addition, BMSA branches have the capability to arrange tire repairs for customers who are located in remote areas by providing onsite inspection, quoting and assistance with logistics services.
Multiple retreads with improved durability
Carrying cargo or passengers, trucks and buses are the lifeblood of the world’s economy. Bridgestone is continually developing new innovative technology for truck and bus tires. With a full line-up of tires tailored to nearly every commercial-use application, it provides high levels of safety, reliability, and cost-effectiveness for highway, city, on and off-road, and winter driving conditions. The M800 series of truck and bus tires is designed to maintain high durability in casing and can be retreaded twice*1.
- Applicable to the following product sizes: 11R22.5 14PR/16PR and 275/80R22.5. The usage or management conditions of the tire and condition of components other than the tread (e.g. casing) may impact the ability of the tire to be retreaded.
The Group has launched the EVERTIRE INITIATIVE, a program to create a future in which tires are recycled to create new tires – not as waste tires or end-of-life tires – but as tires that are returned to rubber and other raw materials and recycled as EVER (always, forever, and everlasting) tires. Starting with the following activities, the Group will accelerate co-creation under EVERTIRE INITIATIVE, an activity toward a sustainable future where recycled tires are the standard.
Developing chemical product manufacturing technologies utilizing used tires
Bridgestone and ENEOS Corporation launched a joint research and development project aimed at the successful development of “chemical recycling technologies that enable precise pyrolysis of used tires.”*1 Synthetic rubber is one of the primary materials used when producing tires and, today, is generally produced from petroleum. Used tires are mainly utilized as fuel in Japan, but to reduce CO2 emissions generated in this method, it becomes increasingly important to circulate tires in a process that emits less CO2, rather than burning them.
In this joint project, the companies will engage in demonstration projects that achieve high-yield production of chemical products, such as butadiene, a raw material used in synthetic rubber. The large-scale demonstrations will be advanced toward 2030 with the goal of achieving mass production and swift commercialization.
The companies will maximize the advanced rubber and polymer material design technologies the Group has cultivated through its tire and rubber business with the crude oil refining technologies and basic chemical product manufacturing technologies of ENEOS. Together, Bridgestone and ENEOS, as leaders in the tire and rubber industry and the petroleum and petrochemicals industry respectively, are working to increase resource circulation and reduce CO2 emissions across the value chains of their industries.
To highlight a related development, Bridgestone is collaborating on a project with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tohoku University, with partners ENEOS and JGC HOLDINGS CORPORATION, to co-create chemical recycling technologies for high-yield production of isoprene, a raw material used in the production of synthetic rubber, by decomposing used tires with a specialized catalyst.*2 By combining the expertise and technologies of industry leading companies and academic institutions, Bridgestone is working to develop innovative recycling technologies that will contribute to the realization of a more sustainable society and to conduct demonstrations for the social implementation of these technologies by 2030.
These two projects have been adopted by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) as part of its “Green Innovation Fund*3 / Development of Technology for Producing Raw Materials for Plastics using CO2 and Other Sources Projects” with a project scale of 24.1 billion JPY and approximately 16.5 billion JPY in funding. This will support their ongoing research, demonstration testing and commercialization.
- Chemical recycling entails treating used materials with chemicals to convert them into other chemical substances to be recycled, as opposed to reusing them as is.
- Rubbers and plastics are polymers created by linking monomers, such as isoprene and butadiene. Bridgestone is developing a process of decomposing used tires at low temperatures and then using a specialized catalyst to break them down into isoprene and other monomers (depolymerization).
- The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan established this program to help achieve the Japanese government's goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. It aims to accelerate structural transformation in the energy and industry sector and innovation through ambitious investment. The fund continuously supports companies and other organizations that address challenges to move from R&D to demonstrations to social implementation of the outcomes within 10 years.
Partnership to pursue end-of-life tire recycling technologies
With its co-creation partner LanzaTech NZ, Inc., a carbon capture and transformation company, the Group seeks to develop a new business model that will create a post-consumer waste management strategy for end-of-life tires, while also driving increased adoption of sustainably sourced chemicals for commercial applications.
Applying LanzaTech’s carbon capture and gas fermentation process to used tires yields sustainably produced chemicals such as ethanol that can be converted to materials like PET for packaging, polyester yarn and surfactants used in consumer goods like laundry detergent. In addition, the Group and LanzaTech are jointly exploring proprietary microbe technology to identify more efficient pathways to produce butadiene, a key ingredient in new tire production.
Together with LanzaTech, the Group will lead the way toward tire material circularity and the decarbonization of new tire production and contribute to the realization of a sustainable society.
Utilizing recovered carbon black
In partnership with Delta-Energy Group, a market leader in tire material recovery, Bridgestone Americas (BSAM) has begun using recovered carbon black (rCB) in manufacturing new high-quality tires for agriculture and passenger vehicles in Des Moines and Aiken County, with expansion plans to Wilson County and Cuernavaca.
Delta-Energy’s proprietary rCB product, D-E Black, partially replaces virgin carbon black, which is a material whose global demand and consumption is increasing and is made from petroleum products using a combustion process. D-E Black is produced from end-of-life tires using its patented DE Polymerization Process, which emits 85% less CO2 per ton compared to virgin carbon black. Since 2017, BSAM has procured over 4,212 tons (8,425,941 pounds) of recycled carbon black for use in the tire manufacturing process, as of Nov, 2022. BSAM is continually assessing new opportunities to expand the use of D-E Black in new and existing products.
Michelin and Bridgestone delivered a joint position paper on advancing sustainability in the tire industry at the Smithers Recovered Carbon Black Conference in 2022. The paper focused on increasing utilization of recovered carbon black in tires and the environmental benefits of this more sustainable material. Bridgestone and Michelin issued a call to action to establish a coalition of a diverse group of stakeholders, including tire manufacturers, carbon black suppliers, pyrolysis partners and emerging technology startups to accelerate progress and increase supply of recovered carbon black.
Air Free Concept
The Group’s Air Free Concept has a unique structure of spokes stretching along the inner sides of the tire that support the weight of the vehicle. With this technology, there is no need to periodically refill the tires with air, resulting in less tire maintenance, improved safety and eliminating the worry of tire punctures.
The spoke structure is made of resin*1 and, along with the rubber in the tread portion, the materials used in the tires are recyclable, contributing to the efficient use of resources. The Group believes that it is possible to achieve even higher levels of environmental performance by developing lower rolling resistance and reducing CO2 emissions using proprietary technologies. Through technological development, the Group aims to achieve a cradle-to-cradle process that proactively maximizes the cyclic use of resources from worn tires into new tires and the use of recyclable resources.
- A synthetic resin that becomes flexible when heated, can be processed into a variety of shapes, and becomes hard when cooled. The changes from heating and cooling can generally be repeated, making it easy to both mold and recycle the material.
Recycle and reuse 100% of aluminum scrap
Recycling aluminum scrap is another major initiative to reuse solid waste. In collaboration with an aluminum alloys manufacture company, Tire Mold Thailand (TMOT) has begun recycling 100 percent of aluminum scrap and reusing recycled aluminum ingots in mold manufacturing process for tires.