The company manufactures tyres for multiple uses (such as cars, vans, trucks, buses, aircrafts, agricultural machinery, earth movers etc.) but is also just as well known for its mobility services, ranging from roadmaps to mobile applications and route planning to travel guides. In 2014, the group operated 68 production facilities in 17 countries with its 112,300 employees, generating sales of 19.6 billion euros. The company devotes over 600 million euros per year to its R&D budget in order to develop breakthrough innovations and new solutions that face up to mobility challenges such as safety, CO2 emissions, cost effectiveness and connectivity.
Michelin’s initiatives are best described through its 4R strategy. The first R stands for “Reduce” by designing lighter tyres, using fewer raw materials, capable of carrying heavier loads, lasting more kilometres or increasing the number of landings. Emphasis is also placed on reducing the rolling resistance of tyres, thereby lessening fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The second R stands for Reuse by repairing, retreading and re-grooving tyres. The last two Rs, Recycle and Renewable, express Michelin’s dedication to recycling and recovering when and where possible the tyres brought to market, as well as using renewable biomaterials for their manufacture.
The circular economy impacts on every aspect of the tyre lifecycle, from design to end-of- life recovery. Michelin intends to actively pursue its 4R strategy by optimising the use of raw materials and ensuring maximum usage of its products. In this respect, Michelin is an active proponent of the functional economy, which consists of selling a service or the use of a product rather than the product itself.
For example, trucking companies and airlines can choose to be billed based on the number of kilometres travelled, the number of tonnes transported, or the number of landings carried out using tyres supplied and maintained by Michelin. As regards the establishment of a circular model, Michelin believes that all the correct incentives have to be in place: the model has to make both economic and environmental sense.