What’s Going On Here?
This week Michelin, in collaboration with General Motors, have released the prototype for a new sustainable model of airless, puncture-proof tyre called “Uptis” (Unique Punctureproof Tire System).
What Does This Mean?
It is hoped that this new model (planned to be commercially available by 2024) will eliminate the possibility of blow-outs, punctures and wear and tear caused by over- and under- inflation. This is important as not only does this improve safety, these properties should also extend tyres’ ‘life-expectancy’. This would reduce the overall number of tyres required, and therefore the amount of energy and raw materials needed.
This announcement comes shortly after Continental launched their Urban Taraxagum bike tyres, made of sustainable dandelion rubber, with the aim of expanding production to vehicle tyres in a few years time. What a blooming good idea!
Why Should We Care?
It turns out that apparently 200 million damaged tyres are thrown away each year. If all these tyres were lined up, they would stretch around the earth over 2.6 times! Airless, puncture-proof tyres could go a long way to limit this number.
Although rubber itself is a renewable product, only 30% of the rubber used in the tyre industry is natural – the rest is derived from crude oil! Even natural rubber isn’t necessarily sustainable. Rubber trees, from which it is made, only grow close to the equator. Long transportation distances, monoculture plantations and deforestation have driven the need for more sustainable options such as dandelion rubber.
Michelin is one of several tyre manufacturers committed to sustainability: pledging to only use sustainably sourced rubber by 2024 and to be 80% renewable in everything they do by 2030.
1. If you drive a vehicle, checking that your tyres have correct air pressure is one of the best things you can do for fuel economy.
2. Ultimately, sustainable tyres will not reduce the environmental impact of driving. Opt for walking, cycling or public transport whenever possible.
3. Use unwanted tyres for something useful, like steps in the garden (like Martyn did at Bahrija Oasis below). Here are 10 other cool ideas for old tyres.