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Automotive Alchemy: BASF, Mercedes-Benz to use chemical recycling to repurpose scrap tires

Toronto, Ontario — Given that most cars come with at least four of them, many auto recycling facilities are overflowing with tires; as such, Mercedes-Benz is looking into ways to reconstitute and reintegrate end-of-life tires back into plastic components on the company’s new vehicles.

The German automaker will utilize BASF’s chemical recycling process to combine pyrolysis oil generated from used tires with biomethane from agricultural waste to create a virgin-quality plastic material.

This ongoing project between the two companies marks the first time pyrolysis oil from scrap tires has been combined with biomethane.

Ultimately, the plastic produced by this process has the same characteristics as virgin plastic created from crude oil, making it a viable substitute material for components such as the door handles of the 2022 EQE and S-Class vehicles, the first models to make use of the material.

Both companies hope to see this project result in even more recycled parts being installed on new vehicles, especially in cases where chemical recycling would permit it.

“On our journey to an all-electric future, we are rethinking the composition of all the materials in our vehicles,” said Markus Schäfer, a member of Mercedes‑Benz Group’s management board and chief technology officer responsible for development and procurement.

“Every action counts when it comes to conserving resources. Through close collaboration with our supplier network, we are replacing raw fossil resources with pyrolysis oil made in part from recycled scrap tires supplied by Mercedes-Benz.

The automaker has set the goal of having the vehicles within its fleet contain an average of 40 percent recycled materials by 2030.

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