Tyre maker CEOs provide TIP update

Chief executive officers of 11 leading tyre companies met at the offices of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) last Friday and announced the latest results of ongoing international research projects studying the potential health and environmental impacts of tyres.

The CEOs form the Tire Industry Project (TIP), which was founded in 2005 to identify and offer solutions to sustainability challenges associated with the life cycle of tyres. TIP is a proactive organisation that operates under the umbrella of the WBCSD.

TIP’s recent work, built on past findings and emerging issues, includes studies into tyre and road wear particles (TRWP) in various environments, including air, water, and sediment, as well as a report on end-of-life tyres (ELT). Based on a comprehensive risk assessment, the studies demonstrated that TRWP are considered safe for human health and the environment, supporting earlier research results. The TIP report covered management methods, recovery routes, recovery rates in 51 countries (approximately 89 per cent of the world’s vehicles) and presented several new beneficial uses of ELT.

The CEOs, representing approximately 65 per cent of the world’s tyre manufacturing capacity, meet every two years to review TIP’s progress and set a forward-looking agenda for new and continuing work. First, a portion of that work will focus on efforts to bring sustainable natural rubber closer to reality. Much work has already been done to identify best practices for responsible sourcing of natural rubber, and now TIP will endeavour to identify the most effective ways to achieve these common goals, including evaluating sustainability best practices and identifying appropriate governance structures and potential platforms. Second, TIP will expand its TRWP Pathways work to study emerging information, such as that related to the presence of microplastics in the world’s oceans.

The tyre manufacturers participating in TIP are, in alphabetical order:

Bridgestone Corporation
Continental AG
Cooper Tire & Rubber Company
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company
Hankook Tire Co., Ltd.
Kumho Tire Company Inc.
Compagnie Générale des Établissements Michelin,
Pirelli & C. S.p.A.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd.
Toyo Tire & Rubber Co., Ltd.
The Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd.

Bridgestone, Goodyear and Michelin have served as co-leaders of the group’s work to date. Representatives of tyre industry associations in Europe, Japan, Korea and the US also attended the meeting, continuing their support of TIP’s work.

TIP member companies believe that all cooperative work must be developed with scientific-method based research and studies. An independent assurance group, brought together by the WBCSD, regularly reviews the work; a review of work conducted in 2016-17 was conducted on 7 September 2017. Members of the group include: Dr John Spengler (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, USA); Dr Maria Blettner (Institute of Medical Biometry, Epidemiology and Informatics, Germany); Dr Emeric Frejafon (INERIS – French National Institute for Industrial Environment and Risks, France); Dr Lailai Li (World Resources Institute China, China); and Dr Taketoshi Taniguchi (The University of Tokyo Policy Alternatives Research Institute, Japan).

During the past two years, TIP has focused on many issues including:

Potential impacts of TRWP: Following extensive ambient air testing of TRWP in Los Angeles, London, Tokyo and Delhi, results indicate that the presence of TRWP PM2.5 microns in size is very low and below all human health and regulatory thresholds anywhere in the world. Additional toxicity testing for one specific targeted chemical in TRWP was conducted to further our understanding of the life cycle impacts of tyres.
Potential life cycle health and environmental impacts of new nanomaterials: The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published a study carried out with technical support from TIP, which evaluated the impacts of new nanomaterials that may be developed and used in tyres. The study showed that new nanomaterials offer positive societal and economic effects.

The study also outlined a general framework of best practices for the safe development and use of new nanomaterials in tyres, for human health and the environment, over the full life cycle of the product. TIP will continue to work with the OECD to develop the life cycle use of nanomaterials in tires to be added as an annex to a general framework.

Development of product category rules (PCR) for conducting life cycle assessments (LCAs): The CEOs approved TIP to publish a peer-reviewed PCR, industry specific guideline compliant with ISO 14025, that will be used to conduct life cycle assessments (LCAs) and develop environmental product declarations (EPDs) in a way that offers comparable reporting.

Development of common reporting indicators: The CEOs approved TIP to publish the environmental key performance indicators (KPIs) that have been developed (CO2 emissions, energy consumption, water intake, and ISO 14001 certification) from 2009-2015. These KPIs will continue to be collected and published on an annual basis. This will show the aggregated progress TIP companies are making to help reduce the industry’s environmental footprint.

Management of end-of-life tyres (ELT): TIP continues to promote effective ELT management in many countries around the world. The main challenges around ELT management are ensuring they do not enter landfills and are, instead, diverted to beneficial uses, for example rubberized asphalt, reclaim rubber and energy recovery in cement kilns.

Further information about the Tire Industry Project can be found on the WBCSD website. The TIP ten-year progress report, published in November 2015, can be read here.

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