NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario—The United Nations defines sustainability as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations."
That also is how the members of the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association define sustainability and is what they strive to achieve, according to Anne Forristall Luke, USTMA president and CEO.
Economic development, social development and environmental protection are all key elements of sustainability, Luke said at the 2018 Rubber Recycling Symposium, held Nov. 7-8 in Niagara Falls.
The USTMA co-sponsored the symposium with the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada and eTracks Tire Management Systems, the organization co-founded by TRAC to help tire manufacturers comply with the provisions of the new Waste-Free Ontario Act.
TRAC and the USTMA share a similar mission to promote sustainability in the tire industry, according to Luke.
"We have a long list of collaborations, and we are working to take that to the next level," she said.
Sustainability in the tire industry is the shared goal of a diverse but connected group of stakeholders, according to Luke. "On the ground, that means building and maintaining strong relationships through credibility and driving change through our leadership," she said.
Last June, executives of the USTMA met with representatives of the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers' Association, the Japan Automobile Tyre Manufacturers Association and the Korean Tire Manufacturers Association, Luke said.
The association executives discussed sustainability, environmental stewardship, the global environmental picture and the development of a global dialogue framework for continuing discussion of issues of mutual interest, she said.
The recent midterm elections weren't quite the "blue wave" some pundits expected, according to Luke, but it did see the Democrats regain the House of Representatives and flip seven state governorships.
The industry can expect an "onslaught" of oversight activities from the House, many of them dealing with the Trump administration's rollback of Obama-era environmental laws, as well as Democratic-sponsored initiatives to fix the nation's infrastructure, Luke said.
The USTMA will support these efforts on the infrastructure, and work to make the development of markets for rubber-modified asphalt a key part of those efforts, she said.
It is still unclear what the congressional realignment will mean for standing laws such as the Toxic Substances Control Act, which Congress revised in 2016, according to Luke.
"It is difficult to predict what will happen next," she said. "It's a recipe for God-knows-what."
Meanwhile, President Trump's executive order requiring federal agencies to rescind two regulations for every new one they introduce has proved to be problematic, according to Luke.
"The executive order does not apply to regulations mandated by statute," she said. "You can't just erase regulations, and for a long time the agencies received no guidance."
In any case, the tire industry continues to strengthen its commitment to environmental stewardship, according to Luke.
The USTMA is close to finalizing its first-ever U.S. tire manufacturing sustainability report, according to Luke.
The report will cover three main categories—safety, environment and economic impact—which comprise the USTMA's vision statements on sustainability, she said.
The vision statements are:
- Continuing to improve the longevity, rolling efficiency and driving performance of the tires they design, create and sell, and enhancing the health and safety of their employees and customers;
- Improving the environmental footprint of their products and processes; and
- Expanding the economic growth they generate in communities where they operate.
The USTMA expects to release the report sometime in December, Luke said.
Nearly 90 percent of USTMA members are ISO 14001-certified, meaning they are experts in managing environmental systems, according to Luke.
Also, the USTMA continues to be the leader in scrap tire management, she said.
"We have a 30-year record of working with states to develop scrap tire markets, and that will continue," Luke said.
The USTMA Board of Directors also is developing a five-year strategic plan to develop scrap tire markets, she said.