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.
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.
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.
USTMA members work to incorporate more sustainable materials into tires, enhancing biodiversity and reducing dependence on non-renewable feedstocks.
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.
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.
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.
USTMA members strive to reduce our environmental footprints.
USTMA members are committed to assessing the impact of their processes and products on the environment throughout a tire’s life cycle.
Members have implemented a variety of initiatives and technologies to reduce manufacturing-related emissions, improve energy efficiency, minimize water use and reduce solid waste.
Energy consumption and intensity rose 3-4% from 2010 to 2017, which may be a result of new automation projects, increased production of higher performance tires, and new facilities coming online. USTMA member facilities have implemented a variety of initiatives and technologies to reduce manufacturing-related emissions and improve energy efficiency.
Since 2010, CO2 emissions from nine USTMA member company facilities have decreased by nearly 10%.
The U.S. Department of Energy has recognized U.S. tire manufacturers for widely adopting currently available energy efficiency technologies to save energy. USTMA members have energy efficiency projects which include LED lighting; steam, condensate and compressed air leak programs; and fan upgrades.
All USTMA members have water conservation projects in place, such as systems to capture and return process water and onsite flow meters.
While water use has slightly increased, USTMA members view this as an opportunity to leverage USTMA’s lessons learned program to collect information that can lead to improved future performance. The slight increase in water intake may be a result of new facilities coming online and increased production of higher performance tires.
USTMA members continually look for new ways to improve their products and operations. As part of this, we remain committed to understanding the impact of our tires on the environment. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Tire Industry Project (TIP) and the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers’ Association (ETRMA) have performed studies to assess the fate and transport of tire and road wear particles (TRWP). While the research conducted to date demonstrates TRWP do not present a significant risk to humans and the environment, USTMA supports additional and ongoing research that considers the latest science and most comprehensive methodologies.
Tires are one of the most important safety components of a car. They support the vehicle’s weight, absorb impact, withstand multiple weather conditions and are a car’s only connection to the road. The grip between a tire and the road surface is essential to tire safety and performance. This critical grip leads to abrasion of both tire and road surfaces, producing TRWP, a mixture of tire tread and road pavement material. Since 2005, our members have supported peer-reviewed scientific studies related to TRWP conducted by the Tire Industry Project (TIP). To date, these studies have found that TRWP do not present a significant impact to human health and the environment; however, TIP continues its research to improve scientific understanding of potential impacts.
The Tire Industry Project (TIP) has assessed potential environmental and human health impacts associated with particles from tires. The conclusions of a study into the chronic toxicity of TRWP in freshwater- and sediment-dwelling organisms, together with previous studies that found no acute toxicity of TRWP, indicate that under typical exposure conditions, TRWP in sediments pose a low risk of toxicity to aquatic organisms. USTMA supports additional research on TRWP that considers the latest science and most comprehensive methodologies, such as those developed by TIP, to gain a deeper understanding of any potential human health or environmental risks associated with TRWP.
Many factors impact tire wear including tire design; vehicle characteristics (weight, distribution of load, location of driving wheels and suspension types); road surface (material, runoff design, roughness); weather (humid or dry, hot or cold); road topology (hilly or flat, winding or straight); and driving behavior (aggressive or smooth driving, high or moderate speed, respecting the correct inflation pressure, braking). As a result, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to reduce tire wear and the generation of TRWP. Rather, effective reduction of TRWP will require a multi-faceted approach, and effective strategies could include reducing the generation of particles from tires through automotive and infrastructure innovations and ensuring proper tire inflation.
Incorporating sustainable infrastructure in roadway development can provide long-term solutions. Rebuilding America’s roads should be done with investments in technologies that increase driver safety and reduce environmental impacts, including roadway runoff. USTMA is encouraged by the documented benefits of rubber-modified asphalt and bioretention technologies, such as stormwater infiltration galleries and bioswales. A 2006 study, conducted by the Arizona Department of Transportation, found that rubber-modified asphalt can reduce tire wear by up to 50%. CalRecycle research found that stormwater infiltration galleries made with tire-derived aggregate reduce stormwater pollutants such as zinc and iron by over 80% and research by the University of Minnesota found stormwater galleries with tire chips reduce pollutants in stormwater runoff by over 60%. To learn more about mitigation options for TRWP please see the summary note from the OECD Workshop on Microplastics from Tyre Wear: Knowledge, Mitigation Measures, and Policy Options. Motorists can also help reduce the amount of TRWP produced by maintaining proper tire pressure. Under-inflated tires can impact tire safety, performance and tread life. USTMA recommends that consumers check their tire pressure at least monthly to maximize the performance and life of the tire.
We are reviewing recent research and preliminary findings and are in contact with researchers at the University of Washington. We will continue to collaborate with researchers to advance understanding of these initial findings. The tire industry uses 6PPD because it helps tires resist degradation and cracking, which is vital for passenger safety. The tire industry remains committed to safety and sustainability and understanding the impact of tire materials on the environment.
USTMA members strive to manufacture tires that reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout a tire’s useful life.
Tire manufacturers recognize they play a role in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, both by reducing manufacturing-related emissions including those from energy production and by designing tires with greater rolling efficiency, which improves fuel economy. Reduced fuel consumption equates to reductions in vehicle emissions.
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.
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)
USTMA is working with states and the federal government, industry groups, recyclers, researchers and environmental groups to grow new and existing markets, which require:
- Assuring dedicated state scrap tire fees are used for their intended purpose
- Greater investment in market development including research to assess the life cycle impacts of new and existing scrap tire markets
- Investment in sustainable infrastructure
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 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.
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.
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:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
*have ongoing abatement programs
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 are prioritizing safety for their customers and their workers and driving the U.S. economic engine.