Continental – in search of sustainable raw materials for tire production

Ahead of the start of the International Motor Show (IAA) in Munich, tire manufacturer Continental announced its intention to restructure its tire range in the future. The aim is to make production more energy-efficient and to use only more sustainable raw materials to manufacture the car tires.

To this end, the entire concept is to be reorganized, from the sourcing of raw materials to the construction and manufacture of tires and the recycling of used tires.

Switch to sustainable raw materials

In the medium term, the DAX-listed group intends to switch its entire production worldwide to the use of sustainable raw materials. By 2050 at the latest, the changeover should be complete and Continental tires should only consist of sustainable materials.

Currently, car tires are mainly made of rubber. Rubber production mainly requires the natural raw material rubber in addition to plastics. Natural rubber is mainly extracted in Southeast Asia.

There, cultivation takes place on large plantations that destroy more and more forest area. In addition, there is much criticism of the social conditions on the plantations. The transport routes of the natural product are correspondingly long and CO2 polluted.

Another method of tire production uses petroleum-based materials.

New approaches to rubber extraction

All this is set to change fundamentally at Continental in the future. The Group has already launched its “Green Concept” program. Among other things, it is planned to obtain natural rubber from dandelions in the future. The new way of extracting rubber is still in the development phase, but Continental has already tested the first tire consisting of dandelion rubber on the road.

In the future, competitors will also find new ways to manufacture their products from natural rubber obtained from other sources instead of rubber trees. For example, the U.S. tire manufacturer Goodyear is currently researching a method of extracting rubber from sugar cane.

What does the turnaround in rubber production mean for the plant in rubber trees?

Rubber is one of the most important raw materials among renewable resources. An investment in this natural raw material promises high profits in some cases, because rubber is needed to manufacture numerous products. The main industries requiring rubber include tire manufacturing and the clothing industry.

Investors who invest in rubber trees have so far been able to expect high returns. Rubber trees grow quickly and the rubber milk is obtained continuously for years. If the trees no longer produce enough rubber milk, they are still a high-quality raw material in the furniture industry.

Whether such an investment will still be worthwhile in the future is questionable. Nevertheless, many years will pass before the extraction of natural rubber has finally found other ways, so that the main industries in which rubber is needed can only slowly switch their production to alternative natural rubber.




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