We hear about vehicle emissions and lifetime pollution metrics all the time, but less attention is focused on automotive components like tires, which use significant amounts of rubber and can create serious pollution if disposed of improperly. Goodyear plans to tackle that issue with new tires made of 90% sustainable materials.
The company is already nearing the market rollout of a 70% sustainable-material tire, which debuted in January 2022. Goodyear said that pushing toward a 90% sustainability rating will “require further collaboration with the company’s supply base to identify the scale necessary for those innovative materials to produce that specific tire at high volumes.”
Goodyear was able to achieve lower rolling resistance with sustainable tires than is possible with traditional tires. That helps the tires reduce fuel consumption and may prove valuable for use on EVs, where the tire choice can heavily impact range. Lower rolling resistance also helps reduce a vehicle’s carbon footprint with improved fuel economy.
To reach the 90% sustainability benchmark, Goodyear used several materials that either occur naturally in nature or can be recycled from a commonly used manufacturing material. Soybean oil helps keep the rubber pliable in changing temperatures. Goodyear said that 100% of the soy protein is used for animal feed, but the company noted that soybean oil is a significant byproduct that can be used in industrial applications.
Goodyear obtains polyester from recycled bottles for use in tire cords, bio-renewable pine tree resins to improve tire traction and steel produced using a low-greenhouse-gas-emissions electric arc furness process. The company uses soybean oil in its products today, including some racing tires, and said it had doubled its use of sustainable rice husk waste residue silica since 2018.
Though we’re likely a few years away from seeing the 90% sustainable tires on the road, Goodyear’s already looking ahead to 2030. Its goal is to build a 100% sustainable tire in 2030, making it the first company to do so.