According to an article from Earth911.com, tire maker Yokohama is selling a tire model now that is made of 80 percent materials that are not petroleum. They used orange oil as their primary ingredient to make the vulcanized rubber.
The orange oil tire is called the Super E-Spec and it received the Popular Mechanics Editors Choice award in the year 2008. The tires are going to be marketed for the Toyota Prius.
The article states:
“The eco-focused dB Super E-spec mixes sustainable orange oil and natural rubber to drastically cut the use of petroleum, without compromising performance,” Yokohama vice president of sales Dan King said. “It also helps consumers save money at the gas pump by improving fuel efficiency via a 20-percent reduction in rolling resistance.”
Orange oil is a renewable resource, which is why it is considered to be a sustainable ingredient. There is however, no indication has been seen as of yet about how to dispose of these tires, and if their economic impact will be less on the environment. Currently, traditional tires can burn for months in a landfill.
It is quite difficult to recycle tires by devulcanizing the rubber because the oil has to be removed from the rubber. This process can be quite costly, so tires are normally shredded to be used in playground surfaces or in sports turf.
The orange oil is supposed to be more sustainable and a good compromise for performance of a traditional tire. In the future, perhaps if the tires pan out with the public, this could be a way to reduce the impact that tires have on the environment.
Is there a real future in the eco-friendly tire trend? There could be if the tires are not just manufactured for hybrid cars. At least Yokohama is doing its part to give its consumers options.