Tire maker Yokohama has begun selling a new type of tire made mainly from orange oil instead of petroleum. The substitution plus the use of natural rubber allows the tires to be 80 percent petroleum-free.
The concept for the Super E-spec was introduced by the company a year ago and won the Popular Mechanics Editor’s Choice Award in 2008. Beyond just replacing petroleum with a renewable resource, the new tire model has also shown a 20 percent reduction in rolling resistance, which can improve fuel economy by about 4 percent (not a huge difference, but every little bit helps). The tires have just made it to market, but the company is working to place them on carmakers’ hybrid models like the Toyota Prius.
While we love the idea of cutting out petroleum in the manufacturing of products, we’d like to hear more from the company about the entire life cycle of these tires. Do they have a plan for recycling or sustainably disposing of them once they’re no longer usable?
Author: M. Treacy