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Bridgestone aims to produce natural rubber tires from sustainable crops in the American Southwest

To make tire production more sustainable, Bridgestone is turning to a desert shrub called guayule as a source of natural rubber.

Native to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States, guayule is a source of heat-resistant natural rubber that can be used to make tires, Bridgestone said in a recent press release. Natural rubber can be extracted from the branches, bark and roots of the guayule, and it can be grown using existing growing equipment, according to the company.

Growing guayule helps diversify the world supply of natural rubber, allows Bridgestone to produce more rubber locally for the US market, and contributes to the tire maker’s sustainability goals. Bridgestone aims to be carbon neutral and produce tires from 100% renewable materials by 2050.

Guayule tree is used as a rubber source for Bridgestone tires

Guayule tree used as a rubber source for Bridgestone tires

To achieve those goals, Bridgestone is looking at both increased recycling of end-of-life tires and alternatives to non-renewable materials such as oil, silica and virgin carbon black currently being used. used in tyres. That’s where guayule comes in.

Bridgestone began studying guayule in earnest in 2012, when they broke ground on a guayule research and processing center in Mesa, Arizona. Factory-made tires were first used in the IndyCar race earlier this year. Bridgestone hopes to commercialize guayule natural rubber tires by 2030 in passenger cars and other applications.

Other companies are also finding ways to make tires more sustainable.

Firestone Firehawk IndyCar racing tires made of guayule rubber

Firestone Firehawk IndyCar racing tires made of guayule rubber

Goodyear is working reduce fuel consumption went into the tyres, and showed a prototype tire made from 70% sustainable materials. It wants to make tires from 100% sustainable materials by 2030. Hyundai and Michelin are also collaborating on a project to help make tires more eco-friendly.

In the past, tire manufacturers have experimented with an ingredient from orange peel, mixed with natural rubber. All of these efforts are important because, as electric vehicles remove emissions from the chimney, the environmental impact from other areas must be considered.

Meanwhile, there are growing concerns about microplastics in tires, and what happens when they land due to tire wear. A series of controversial research results suggest that the weight gain of EVs can produce a increased emissions of microplastics.

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