Michelin, in collaboration with IFP Energies Nouvelles (IFPEN) and Axens, has achieved a significant milestone in sustainable materials innovation with the inauguration of an industrial-scale demonstrator for bio-synthetic rubber production. Located in Bassens near Bordeaux, France, this facility represents a pivotal advancement under the BioButterfly project, supported by ADEME (the French Agency for Environment and Energy Management), aimed at revolutionizing the rubber industry.

What is Bio-Synthetic Rubber?

Bio-synthetic rubber, also known as bio-based synthetic rubber, is a type of synthetic rubber that is produced using renewable biomass sources, such as plant-based feedstocks or bio-derived chemicals. This innovative approach reduces dependence on fossil fuels and offers significant environmental benefits compared to traditional petrochemical-based synthetic rubbers.

Uses of Bio-Synthetic Rubber

Bio-synthetic rubber is versatile and finds applications across various industries, primarily in tire manufacturing, automotive components, industrial seals, footwear, and consumer goods. Its properties, including durability, elasticity, and resilience, make it suitable for a wide range of products that require high-performance materials.

  • Tire Manufacturing: Primary application due to its durability and resilience.
  • Automotive Components: Used in seals, hoses, and gaskets.
  • Industrial Seals: Provides sealing solutions in various industrial applications.
  • Footwear: Adds flexibility and durability to shoe soles.
  • Consumer Goods: Used in diverse products such as gloves, mats, and sporting equipment.

Global Market Outlook for Bio-Based Materials

The global demand for bio-based materials, including synthetic rubber, is on the rise as industries seek environmentally friendly alternatives. According to industry reports, the market for bio-based polymers, including those used in rubber manufacturing, was valued at approximately USD 10 billion in 2021 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 8% through 2026.

Other Key Players in Bio-Synthetic Rubber

Several global leaders are also investing in bio-synthetic rubber technologies, driving innovation and expanding the market for sustainable materials:

  1. Bridgestone: Bridgestone is researching bio-based materials to develop synthetic rubbers that reduce environmental impact in tire manufacturing.
  2. Dow: Dow is investing in bio-based polymers, including bio-synthetic rubber, to provide eco-friendly solutions across various industries such as automotive and construction.
  3. Lanxess: Lanxess focuses on bio-based additives for rubber production, supporting the transition to sustainable materials in automotive and industrial applications.
  4. Zeon Corporation: Zeon Corporation specializes in bio-based elastomers and chemicals, striving to replace conventional rubbers with environmentally friendly alternatives.
  5. Trinseo: Trinseo develops bio-based styrene materials, including synthetic rubber, to enhance sustainability and reduce carbon footprint in manufacturing processes..
  6. Synthos: Synthos utilizes biotechnology to produce bio-synthetic rubbers and polymers, contributing to sustainable solutions in the automotive and construction sectors.

Technological Advancements and Sustainability Goals

Eric-Philippe Vinesse, Michelin’s Executive Vice President of Research and Development, highlights the strategic importance of bio-synthetic rubber: “For Michelin, transitioning to bio-synthetic rubber aligns with our commitment to achieving 100% renewable or recycled materials in our products by 2050. This initiative not only enhances product sustainability but also strengthens our position as a leader in sustainable mobility solutions.”

Economic Impact and Regional Development

Michelin’s investment exceeding €80 million ($86.7 million) in the BioButterfly project has not only supported local job creation in Bassens but also aims to establish multiple bio-synthetic rubber production facilities globally. This initiative underscores Michelin’s dedication to fostering economic growth while advancing environmental sustainability.


Michelin’s leadership in bio-synthetic rubber production marks a transformative step towards sustainable materials in the rubber industry. By leveraging renewable biomass sources for synthetic rubber production, Michelin not only reduces environmental impact but also sets new standards for performance and sustainability. As global demand for eco-friendly materials grows, Michelin’s commitment to innovation and sustainability positions it at the forefront of driving positive change in mobility and beyond.

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