HANOVER, Germany—Looking to underscore its commitment to sustainable business models and innovative products and services, Continental A.G. has bundled a handful of sustainable business activities—including its worldwide retreading and recycling businesses—into a focused department.
The new department, which operates within Conti's tires business unit, includes the firm's activities devoted to:
- Taraxagum dandelion rubber
- ContiLifeCycle retreading network, including a plant in Germany that combines rubber recycling and retreading under one roof;
- Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR) for natural rubber supply chain; and
- Cokoon formaldehyde-free rubber adhesive technology offered as open-source.
"With the creation of a dedicated sustainability organization ... we are consolidating our far-reaching activities and research projects and underscoring our commitment to further systematic expansion of sustainable business models and innovative products and services along the entire value chain," according to Christian Koetz, head of the tires business area.
"We are confident that sustainable and responsible management enhances our capacity for innovation and our future viability, and that we can make an important contribution to society and toward shaping our future through our commitment."
Claus Petschick, an engineer with over 30 years of experience at Conti, will oversee the new department, tasked with steering the strategic direction of all sustainability projects worldwide.
He started at Conti in the research and development and product development for the original equipment business before becoming manager of the Hanover-Stoecken, Germany, tire plant in 2007. Prior to this promotion, the 58-year-old had been vice president, quality management for 10-plus years, Conti said.
Over the past several years, Conti's sustainability strategy has been on the strategic topics of climate change mitigation, clean mobility, circular economies and sustainable supply chains.
In order to make the tires of the future even more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly in terms of production, use and recyclability, Continental is investing in the research and development of new technologies, alternative materials and environmentally compatible production processes.
Among these initiatives is retreading. In 2013, Continental opened the ContiLifeCycle retreading/recycling plant in Hanover, with a goal of setting new standards in the field of tire recycling.
In terms of rubber supply, Conti has focused resources on reducing its need to import natural rubber from the tropics and instead develop ways to source it as close as possible to the tire plants where it's used. This would help prevent deforestation in regions where NR is grown and reduce the carbon dioxide emissions generated through long transport routes.
One solution in Conti's portfolio is its Taraxagum project, which envisions deriving natural latex from dandelion plants, which in turn can be processed for use in producing motorcycle, car and commercial vehicle tires.
Conti currently produces and markets the Urban Taraxagum bicycle tire using natural rubber from the dandelion plant.
Continental stresses that it is committed to sustainability in the NR supply chain and is striving to provide the greatest possible transparency and to establishing a traceable and sustainable supply chain via an electronic system. It also is a founding member of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber, an association of the major players in the natural rubber sector from business and civil society, who are working jointly to improve global sustainability in the natural rubber sector.