European group converting used tires into polymers

Neste, Borealis and Covestro are working together to turn discarded tires into plastics for automotive applications.

The used tires are liquefied and then processed into base chemicals and further into polycarbonates of high purity. These can then be used in various automotive applications, from parts of headlamps to radiator grilles.

“Circularity requires cooperation, and this cooperation with our partners Neste and Borealis is testament to the possibilities at our disposal,” said Guido Naberfeld, senior vice-president, head of sales and market development mobility at Covestro.

“We are creating options to turn old tires into new car parts again. With that, we are supporting our automotive customers and addressing an increasingly prominent question discussed across the value chain: How to match high-performance materials with recycled content? Projects like this can be the answer.”

As part of the collaboration, Neste turns liquefied discarded tires into a high-quality raw material for polymers and chemicals manufacturing and supplies it to Borealis. Borealis will then process the Neste-produced raw material into base chemicals phenol and acetone, which are supplied to Covestro. Covestro can use these materials to make polycarbonates. The share of recycled content is attributed via the mass balancing approach all the way to the final products using ISCC Plus certification.

The first products based on the collaboration are already available. Aside from polycarbonates, the project partners may also consider polyurethanes as a possible end product, which could also find its way into parts of a car interior.

“This project can serve as a blueprint when it comes to establishing circularity in the field of plastics in cars,” said Jeroen Verhoeven, vice-president value chain development for polymers and chemicals at Neste.

“It shows how low-quality waste materials can be turned into very high-quality plastics. This is good news for the polymers and automotive industries as well as for the environment.”