The project promises considerable environmental benefits; after all, worldwide all tire manufacturers combined sell around 1.6 billion car tires every year. For their production, manufacturers process up to 800,000 metric tons of PET plastic fibers. Around four billion plastic bottles could thus be recycled annually into technical fibers for tires. Continental is also committed to rolling into a green future in the truest sense of the word: The tire manufacturer recently presented the “Conti GreenConcept” with a 17-percent share of recycled materials and 35-percent share of renewable raw materials at the IAA Mobility 2021 in Munich. The green materials used include natural rubber from dandelions, silicate from the ashes of rice husks, as well as vegetable oils and resins, all of which significantly reduce the proportion of crude oil-based materials.
Efforts to increase sustainability are continuing in the area of fuels. For example, British oil company BP has launched a project with Danish wind power producer Ørsted to build a 50-megawatt electrolyzer at BP’s refinery in Lingen, Germany, which could be supplied with electricity from Ørsted’s offshore wind farm. This could produce green hydrogen as early as 2024, replacing some of the fossil hydrogen production at the refinery while also serving to produce more sustainable fuels. Both avoid significant amounts of CO2 emissions. Over the entire project cycle of 20 years, that amount is estimated at around 1.6 million metric tons.
Circular economy remains a major challenge
Just the few examples listed here show that circular economy in particular can make an important contribution to decarbonization. In its study “The Automotive Industry in the Era of Sustainability” published in 2020, the Capgemini Research Institute concludes that the introduction of circular economy, particularly on the part of the automotive industry, affects many key areas of sustainability – from the supply chain to recycling, procurement, and after-sales. The study surveyed more than 500 automotive company executives from nine countries and more than 300 sustainability experts. However, according to the study, automotive companies still have a long way to go before they fully benefit from circular economy. Only 32 percent of companies surveyed said they currently contribute to circular economy through their supply chain, with that figure expected to rise to approximately 50 percent in the next five years.