Nokian Tyres has introduced what it is calling its “most sustainable tire yet” with the Nokian Tyres Green Step concept tire. The tire, which Nokian debuted this week during a recent tire launch event, consists of 93% of materials that are either recycled or renewable. According to the company, the tire moves it even closer to its goal: by the year 2030, 50% of all raw materials used in Nokian Tyres’ tires will be recycled or renewable.
“Drivers are more and more interested in the sustainability of their tires, and this creates demand for us to create tires for these standards. It also puts pressure on the industry to develop more eco-friendly materials, as well as for tire manufacturing technology to adapt to these materials. With a concept tire like the Green Step, we can push the limits. It’s a win-win for all, but especially for the environment,” says Jouko Ilomäki, development manager for Nokian Tyres.
All rubber used in the Green Step concept tire is natural, and renewable oils, such as canola oil, are used, the tiremaker says. Almost all plasticizers, resin and processing aids are from renewable resources as well, Nokian says. In addition, natural rice husk ash silica works as a main filler for the tread and sidewall, and renewable cord fiber is used to make the tire tougher.
“We learned new things with every innovation made for the concept tire. For example, one of the most demanding tasks was to replace the synthetic rubber completely with natural rubber, which we achieved in the end,” Ilomäki says.
Almost every component of the Green Step also includes some recycled materials, Nokian says. For example, the carbon black used in the rubber compounds was derived from end-of-life tires, and the butyl used in the inner surface, as well as the steel in the steel belts and bead wires in the structure, are mainly recycled according to the company.
The Nokian Tyres Green Step is a winter tire and it is drivable on snow and ice, the company says. Some of the materials used in the concept tire are familiar from various Nokian Tyres’ previous tire models. Natural rubber is an important material in all tires because of its beneficial features. Alternative sources for natural rubber, such as the guayule plant, are also being researched. Renewable oils are common in Nokian Tyres’ products, as the company stopped using high-aromatic oils in 2005.
“We believe that using recycled rubber and especially recycled carbon black will be a future trend in tire manufacturing. By the year 2030, we will have multiple new suppliers and more advanced technology,” Ilomäki says. “Also, the demand for raw materials with either recycled or renewed components will increase. We are very happy to be able to corporate so many recycled elements in the Green Step already.”