Environment

USTMA members demonstrate their commitment to environmental stewardship throughout a tire’s life cycle and seek out opportunities for continuous improvement. These efforts include conducting research and investing in development to identify new, more sustainable tire materials; reducing the environmental footprint of manufacturing facilities, products and processes; improving the rolling efficiency of a tire throughout its life and supporting sustainable scrap tire markets.

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Vision 3 logo Vision 3

USTMA members strive to increase the use of sustainable materials in the tires we manufacture

Tires contain many rubber compounds and other materials because they are required to safely perform in the face of a wide range of demanding conditions. Compounding–the process of selecting and combining materials for a specific tire component–is complex.

The specific makeup of each tire compound is dictated by how and where it will be used within the tire — tread or sidewall, structural plies or stabilizing bead — and the specific safety and performance attributes desired. Improved sustainability performance must complement these essential attributes, an opportunity and a challenge USTMA members have embraced.

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Examples of Sustainable Materials

Visions in Action

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Bridgestone, Cooper and Pirelli have conducted major research on the commercial potential of guayule, a shrub native to the U.S. Southwest that contains natural rubber within its cellular structure.

Cooper and Goodyear participate in a consortium known as the Program of Excellence in Natural Rubber Alternatives (PENRA) with several partners, including The Ohio State University, to investigate the potential of alternate rubber plants including Taraxacum kok-saghyz, a type of Russian dandelion, as a domestic natural rubber source. 

Continental is working with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology, Julius Kuehn-Institute and EKUSA, to produce, test and develop tires with tread made from 100% dandelion-derived rubber.

Bridgestone is shifting toward more sustainable mobility solutions by replacing petroleum in Firestone Ag tires with renewable soybean oil. Today, various percentages of soybean oil are in the Ag tires produced in the Bridgestone Des Moines, Iowa plant.

Goodyear’s breakthrough in applying soybean oil in the tread compound of tires as a replacement for traditional petroleum oil was commercialized in its Assurance WeatherReady™ consumer tire line in 2017, the Eagle Enforcer All Weather police tire in 2018, and the Eagle Exhilarate in 2019. 

Goodyear and Pirelli use silica derived from rice husks, which are inedible and might otherwise be thrown away, to produce tires with improved rolling efficiency. 

Hankook utilizes vegetable oil resin extracted from conifers to manufacture tires specifically designed for electric vehicles. The Hankook Kinergy AS EV tire, made with vegetable oil resin, provides electric vehicles improved wet road performance as well as general handling and braking.

Michelin and Bridgestone incorporate ground rubber derived from used tires as a closed-loop sustainable compound to produce new high-performance tires and tires for agricultural and off-road applications.

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Sustainable Natural Rubber

The Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber is an international, multi-stakeholder, voluntary membership organization, with a mission to lead improvements in the socioeconomic and environmental performance of the natural rubber value chain.

Members of the Tire Industry Project (TIP) launched the GPSNR in November 2017, along with other members of the natural rubber value chain. Today, members include natural rubber producers, processors and traders, tire makers and other rubber makers/buyers, car makers, other downstream users, financial institutions and other community groups and non-governmental organizations. Representatives from these stakeholder groups have contributed to the wide-reaching priorities that will define GPSNR strategy and objectives for a fair, equitable and environmentally sound natural rubber value chain.

Learn more about how the GPSNR is advancing a sustainable natural rubber supply chain here.

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Vision 4 logo Vision 4

USTMA MEMBERS STRIVE TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS THROUGHOUT A TIRE’S LIFE CYCLE.

Tire manufacturers recognize they play a role in mitigating climate change throughout a tire’s life cycle.  USTMA members are committed to:  

*Manufacturing products that reduce CO2 emissions; 
*
Research and development of materials with lower carbon footprints; 
*Proactive measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our manufacturing facilities; and 
*Advancing the circular economy for scrap tires.  

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ROLLING EFFICIENCY

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Boosting Rolling Efficiency Through High-Tech & Best Practices

Tires are highly engineered products that must meet stringent safety and performance standards. Tire design is an exercise in balance and choice. Rolling efficiency, wet traction and tread wear are three of the key performance factors USTMA members must balance and, traditionally, favoring one attribute came at a cost to the other two, the sweet spot between them depending on the application. Today, thanks to innovative materials and manufacturing technologies, tires with improved rolling efficiency entail fewer performance tradeoffs.

USTMA Member Fuel Mix for 2017

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USTMA tire manufacturing facilities are powered primarily by natural gas and, as a result, have a lower greenhouse gas emission footprint compared to other manufacturing sectors. Additionally, tire manufacturers are implementing a variety of strategies and technologies to improve the energy efficiency of their operations and reduce their CO2 emissions. 

Energy Consumption

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Producing higher efficiency tires is relatively more energy intensive, but the front-end energy use is more than offset by the energy savings across the tire’s entire life cycle. U.S. tire manufacturers’ energy consumption increased 7% between 2010 and 2019 with the implementation of new technologies and the construction of new manufacturing capacity. However, because USTMA members are finding energy saving opportunities in other aspects of their operations, total energy intensity — the amount of energy required to produce one ton of product — is growing more slowly than total energy use. 

CO2 Emissions

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Total emissions of CO2 related to tire manufacturing decreased 15% from 2010 to 2019.   

Read more about USTMA’s Climate Principles.

 

CO2 Comparison to Other Industries

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The U.S. Department of Energy data underscores that tire manufacturing remains a low energy-intensive industry. USTMA members have energy efficiency projects which include LED lighting; steam, condensate and compressed air leak programs; and fan upgrades. Read more about USTMA’s Climate Principles

MORE CIRCULARITY = LESS CO2

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USTMA members support sustainable and circular markets for scrap tires, including markets that reduce CO2 emissions by reducing emissions compared to those associated with the manufacture and transport of virgin materials.

  • • Rubber modified asphalt made with scrap tires, in addition to offering durability and maintenance advantages, has been shown to contribute lifecycle CO2 emissions at least 32% lower than conventional pavement.
  • • Pyrolysis of scrap tires to yield recycled carbon black — used to reinforce and manage heat in a tire — produces 81% less CO2 per ton compared to virgin carbon black.2
  • • In 2019, 36.8% of recovered scrap tires were used as tire-derived fuel (TDF) by cement kilns, pulp and paper mills, and other industrial users. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recognized the biogenic or natural rubber fraction in TDF as carbon neutral, reducing the CO2 emissions profile of TDF and, therefore, the tire’s life cycle. In cement kilns, TDF has an added circularity benefit because the steel belts replace the ferrous oxide that would otherwise need to be added to the cement mix.3
Vision 5 logo Vision 5

USTMA members are committed to understanding our products impact.

USTMA members are committed to sustainable practices in every aspect of their businesses and embrace a shared responsibility of helping to achieve a more sustainable society, continually looking for new ways to improve the societal contributions of their products and operations.  As part of this, we remain committed to understanding any potential impacts of our tires on human health and the environment. 

 

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Rolling Efficiency

Rolling efficiency measures the energy required to maintain forward movement. Improved rolling efficiency is the primary way tires in use contribute to reducing CO2 emissions through improved vehicle fuel economy. Low rolling resistance tires are tires with improved rolling efficiency, one of many factors that can improve vehicle fuel economy.

Improvements in modern tire materials, including the introduction of silica, have revolutionized the tire industry, drastically reducing older and less efficient compound materials and manufacturing methods. Today’s modern tire is a highly engineered marvel that delivers greater fuel economy while also maximizing safety, performance, handling and durability.

Rolling efficiency doesn’t just lower GHG emissions, it can also increase your bank account! A 10% improvement in rolling efficiency, for instance, can reduce consumer fuel costs by up to $36 a year (assuming fuel is $3 a gallon). Considering the U.S. Department of Transportation’s estimate of 263 million vehicles on American roads, that may mean more than 1.5 billion fewer gallons of gas are used for a total cost savings of nearly $9.5 billion.

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USTMA MEMBERS SHARE THE GOAL THAT ALL SCRAP TIRES ENTER SUSTAINABLE AND CIRCULAR END USE MARKETS

Scrap tires are one of the most recycled products in the U.S. The management of scrap tires has been a priority for USTMA members for almost three decades. USTMA works with stakeholders, including states, the U.S. EPA and the industry, to incentivize market development and advance federal and state regulations that foster sustainable scrap tire markets. According to our 2019 Scrap Tire Management Report, approximately 76% of scrap tires currently go to scrap tire markets.

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END USE RATES FOR COMMON MATERIALS

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Total MSW Recycling and Composting by Material, 2017

94.17 million tons

Lead acid batteries: 99% (Battery Council International 2019)
Tires: 75.8% (USTMA 2019)
Paper: 66.2% recovery rate (AF&PA 2020)
Aluminum cans: 49.8% (Aluminum Association 2019)
Glass bottles: 33.9% (Glass Packaging Institute 2017)
Plastic (PET) bottles: 29.2% (NAPCOR 2017)

BUILDING MORE MARKETS FOR SCRAP TIRES

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USTMA is working with states and the federal government, industry groups, recyclers, researchers and environmental groups to grow new and existing markets, which require:

  • Investment in scrap tire solutions that advance the circular economy.
  • State grant programs to grow new and existing markets.
  • Federal investment in sustainable infrastructure advancement that advances innovation while protecting health, safety and the environment.
  • Additional research to assess lifecycle impacts.

While the challenges are complex, our mission is simple: 100% of scrap tires enter sustainable and circular markets. Read more in our Scrap Tire Management Report.

SCRAP TIRE MARKETS

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Scrap tires are recycled into products such as rubber modified asphalt, automotive and other products, mulch for landscaping, tire-derived fuel and new applications like infiltration galleries that filter stormwater. USTMA is currently funding research to advance the knowledge of rubber modified asphalt.

Our members also invest in markets for scrap tires. Michelin, Bridgestone and Continental have partnered with pyrolysis companies to advance the use of recycled carbon black (rCB) to produce new tires. Michelin partnered with Scandinavian Enviro Systems to increase end-of-life tire recycling. Bridgestone joined with Delta-Energy Group to bring at-scale use of rCB to the tire market, and Continental works with Pyrolyx to help tire manufacturers scale up production of rCB.

REDUCING REMAINING STOCKPILES THROUGH PROPER MANAGEMENT

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USTMA promotes scrap tires going to sustainable end use markets because scrap tires in stockpiles create many dangers including fire and disease risk.

In 1990 the EPA estimated that over 1 billion scrap tires were stored in illegal or abandoned stockpiles. By 2019, working in partnership with states, only 56 million remained, a 94% reduction. USTMA continues to work with states to abate the remaining stockpiles and prevent their reoccurrence.

REDUCING REMAINING STOCKPILES THROUGH PROPER MANAGEMENT

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Today, roughly 56 million scrap tires are contained in stockpiles, down from almost 1 billion in 1990. USTMA continues to work with state legislators and regulators on programs to help eliminate stockpiles.

The bulk of the remaining stockpiles are concentrated in eight states:

  • Arizona*
  • Colorado*
  • Michigan*
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington*

*have ongoing abatement programs

Our Sustainability Pillars

USTMA recognizes three essential pillars of sustainability: safety, environment and economic impact. In addition to practices to protect the environment, learn more about how USTMA members prioritize safety for their customers and their workers and drive the U.S. economic engine.  

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