Conti to open ‘first of kind’ retreading plant in Germany
During its press conference at the IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hannover, Germany, Continental announced it is establishing a new truck and bus tyre retreading plant plus a facility to recycle rubber from used tyres at its Hannover headquarters. The company claims the facility will be the first of its kind worldwide and will make use of the synergies between the retreading and recycling production. An investment of “more than ten million euros” will go into the ContiLifeCycle plant project, and more than 100 new jobs will be created at Continental’s Hannover-Stöcken site.
“In the face of limited raw materials, we see it as our obligation to come up with sustainable solutions in tire production and retreading. We are now able to process used tread buffings and ground end-of-life tyres in such a steered and controlled way, that it can be reused in the production of new and retreaded tyres,” commented Dr. Andreas Esser, head of Continental’s Commercial Vehicle Tires business unit.
Currently, 41 per cent of end-of-life tyres (ELT) in the European Union are used for incineration in the cement industry. A further 35 per cent of these ELT are being “downcycled” and subsequently used in low stress technical rubber goods, such as moulded rubber products. Continental says it has developed a new recycling process that allows high shares of recycled rubber in compounds for new and retreaded tyres. By implementing Continental’s new approach, the amount of recycled rubber in a tyre can be doubled.
“This marks the next step in optimising the utilization of raw materials in tyre production. 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,” remarked Dr. Boris Mergell, vice-president Material and Process Development and Industrialization.
Based in Hannover-Stöcken, the new retreading and recycling plants will start production in 2013. The projected annual capacity will be 180,000 retreaded tyres once the plant reaches full capacity. “The ContiLifeCycle Plant will also serve as a competence center for retreading, 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. This setup enables us to swiftly react to learnings from the production process and thus continuously improve our product,” commented Christian Sass, director Retread Business at Continental. Tread buffings from Continental’s new ContiLifeCyle retreading factory will be completely used in the recycling facility.