GENEVA—Nearly a dozen tire makers from around the globe are charting a future they hope will lead to more sustainability within their industry.
The Tire Industry Project within the World Business Council for Sustainable Development has been around for about 15 years and has been working on a new "roadmap" for change. The idea behind the project, which has been a focus for about 18 months, is to accelerate progress on achieving sustainable development goals established by the United Nations by 2030.
There are seven ways the tire industry can have an impact on the 17 goals, TIP members said during a virtual discussion May 18.
Those approaches, called impact pathways, include efforts in the areas of supply chain, operations, and products and services.
As director of global sustainability at Goodyear, Maureen DeSanzo has been involved in developing the blueprint the industry wants to take in the next decade.
"For individual companies, Goodyear included, the roadmap helps inform our strategies and identify key stakeholders to engage in developing those solutions," DeSanzo said during the discussion.
"So, really, regardless of where a company is in the journey, we hope that the roadmap can be leveraged to validate ongoing initiatives, to inform new efforts and also to help communicate the impact that value change actors are having in making progress to the goals," she said.
Concerning the supply chain, TIP seeks to "accelerate and scale activities to achieve a fair, equitable and environmentally sound natural rubber value chain."
The group also wants to "implement sustainable procurement practices and establish environmental, social and governance responsibilities throughout the supply chain."
Operational efforts should include "pathways to decarbonize operations, reduce emissions and ensure the sustainable use of natural resources."
"Ensure safe and inclusive working environments and equal opportunities for all employees" is another goal in operations.
There are three pathways regarding products and services. They include leveraging "multi-stakeholder efforts to achieve evidence-base solutions that address tire and road wear particles."
The group also wants to "accelerate the sustainable mobility transition" and "advance innovation in product, service and business model design to enhance low-carbon and circular solutions."
Ana Arce, as global lead of sustainability promotion and stakeholder engagement at Bridgestone Corp., focused on each of these seven impact pathways where the tire industry can have the most transformative impact.
"If you think about it, 70 percent of natural rubber is used by tire sector globally. And 85 percent of that is produced by 6 million smallholders. So what we are looking with this particular impact pathway through our actions is to ensure more sustainable inclusive economic growth but totally in alignment with the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber," she said.
GPSNR is a global platform created to encourage a fair and environmentally friendly natural rubber business climate.
But making tires is not just about using responsible natural rubber, Arce said. "Tires, as you can image, contain more than 100 different materials. This is beyond just natural rubber," she said. The goal is to further encourage sustainable procurement practices for materials such as steel, carbon black, silica, chemicals and synthetic rubber.
With TIP's 15-year history, the group said it was well-positioned to develop the roadmap. The effort was accomplished completely online among collaborators due to the limitations created by COVID-19.
While the roadmap now has been created, there is lots of work ahead to accomplish the environmental goals in the next decade.
"The SDG will require action from everyone to be completed by 2030, and there's clearly an expectation that business plays a key leading role in this," TIP Director Anne-Cecile Remont said.
"But sustainability and SDG-related issues are complex and they're sometimes difficult to navigate. It's hard to see where one can have the biggest impact. It's hard to see how to achieve this impact as well. What are the actions that need to be taken at an individual company level? What are the ones that necessitate broader engagement from stakeholders? What are the ones that require a full value chain approach?" she asked.
"Doing an SDG roadmap seemed to be a good way to answer some of those questions," Remont said.
The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association believes the new roadmap will have an impact beyond its own membership.
"TIP's roadmap for the tire sector will align not just tire makers, but the automotive industry at large so all can act collectively to identify opportunities and create solutions to address the most pressing challenges across the industry value chain and its stakeholders," the trade group said in a statement.
"The USTMA and its member companies share the roadmap's goals for safety and environmental stewardship, including mitigating climate change, increasing workplace safety, addressing tire and road wear particles, and promoting sustainable end-use markets for scrap tires," USTMA said.
"We'd like to see this roadmap help guide and inform decision making across the entire value chain. We hope it will encourage stakeholder dialog," said DeSanzo, and provide inspiration for action.
More information is available at sustainabilitydriven.info.
WBCSD, based in Geneva, calls itself "a global, CEO-led organization of over 200 leading businesses working together to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world." Members of that group's TIP are: Bridgestone, Continental, Cooper, Goodyear, Hankook, Kumho, Michelin, Pirelli, Sumitomo, Toyo and Yokohama.