Continental's Century-Long Commitment to Sustainability

In a remarkable journey spanning over 120 years, Continental, a premium tyre manufacturer, has been at the forefront of promoting sustainability through its innovative retreading of truck tyres. This long-standing practice not only extends the service life of tyres but also significantly contributes to resource conservation and cost reduction.

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Continental | ContiLifeCycle plant for retreading truck and bus tires at Continental at the Stöcken, Hanover, site.
Published on
December 12, 2023

Continental's annual retreading of over one million truck and bus tyres worldwide is a testament to its commitment to environmental stewardship. A study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology (UMSICHT) highlights the substantial environmental impact of this initiative, revealing that retreaded tyres can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 50 percent compared to new tyres. Impressively, the composition of these retreaded tyres includes up to 85 percent recycled and renewable materials.

Jorge Almeida, Head of Sustainability at Continental Tires, proudly states, “We have been a pioneer in retreading truck and bus tyres for more than 120 years. Our tyre retreading saves raw materials and costs – a real win-win situation for fleet operators and the environment.”

The Process of Retreading: A Blend of Tradition and Innovation

Continental's retreading process involves both hot and cold methods. In hot retreading, the tyre's casing is completely restored, including the sidewall, through a hot vulcanisation process. Cold retreading, known as ContiTread in Continental's range, involves applying a profiled and pre-vulcanised tread material to the buffed casing. This process is carried out at lower temperatures and allows for approximately 85 percent of the original tyre material to be reused.

Continental plant in Seelze in the Hanover region.

A History Rooted in Sustainability

The origins of Continental's tyre retreading activities date back to over a century ago in Hanover. In 1903, the company established a facility in Seelze, near Hanover, dedicated to reclaiming, processing, and recycling old rubber. This early commitment laid the groundwork for Continental's sustainable business practices.

A significant milestone was achieved in 2013 with the opening of the ContiLifeCycle plant in Hanover's Stöcken district. This facility uniquely combines retreading and recycling operations, furthering Continental's sustainable use of raw materials, water, and energy.

Expanding Horizons: The Acquisition of Bandvulc

Continental's acquisition of the leading British retreading firm, Bandvulc, in 2016 marked a significant expansion of its retreading operations. The Bandvulc facility in Ivybridge, Devon, now serves as a technical innovation hub for the ContiLifeCycle programme, offering a wide range of retread tyre patterns and sizes.

The LODC Concept: Reducing Operational Costs

Continental's LODC (Lowest Overall Driving Costs) concept, as explained by Tansu Isik, Head of Region South, Channels Fleet and OE Trailer at Continental Tires, is designed to help fleet customers reduce tyre-related operational costs. This approach integrates the sustainable ContiLifeCycle concept, offering a combination of retreaded tyres, casing management, and fuel-saving new tyres.

Retreading process for truck and bus tyres.

Towards a Circular Economy

Continental's retreading activities are a prime example of its commitment to the circular economy. By significantly reducing the use of resources like crude oil, natural rubber, and water, and saving up to 70 percent of the energy required for producing new tyres, retreading stands as a sustainable alternative. The company's goal is to recover 60 percent of the materials used in tyre construction from used tyres by 2050.

Continental's century-long dedication to tyre retreading is not just a story of business innovation but a testament to its unwavering commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.

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