Home Fleetwatch 2022 SA tyre manufacturers commit to carbon net zero by 2050

SA tyre manufacturers commit to carbon net zero by 2050

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An aerial view of Sumitomo Rubber South Africa’s Ladysmith plant. In the past five years, SRSA has generated 1MW of solar energy, with a further 6MW in the pipeline. To further change its energy usage, the company has installed LED lights across all sites and electricity usage is closely monitored.
An aerial view of Sumitomo Rubber South Africa’s Ladysmith plant. In the past five years, SRSA has generated 1MW of solar energy, with a further 6MW in the pipeline. To further change its energy usage, the company has installed LED lights across all sites and electricity usage is closely monitored.

South African local tyre manufacturers are playing their part in driving towards a greener future and building a more sustainable future for all with Bridgestone South Africa, Continental Tyre South Africa, Goodyear South Africa, and Sumitomo Rubber South Africa, as members of the South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (SATMC), committing to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 in line with global targets.

“The role of emissions in climate change cuts to the heart of the industry we operate in and as a united body of local manufacturers, we are all demanding real action from each other,” says Nduduzo Chala, managing executive of the SATMC. “We are proud that the SATMC, and its member companies, have responded to this call to take action with a range of measures aimed at reducing their emissions, responsibly using energy, and cementing a circular economy to reduce and eliminate waste.”

In terms of taking action, Bridgestone has announced the launch of “Bridgestone E8 commitment” that includes a corporate commitment to the realisation of a carbon neutral mobility society. Setting focused targets, Bridgestone has committed to reduce its absolute CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030 (when compared to base year 2011).

SATMC Managing Executive Nduduzo Chala: “The role of emissions in climate change cuts to the heart of the industry we operate in and as a united body of local manufacturers, we are all demanding real action from each other.”
SATMC Managing Executive Nduduzo Chala: “The role of emissions in climate change cuts to the heart of the industry we operate in and as a united body of local manufacturers, we are all demanding real action from each other.”

Toward this goal, Bridgestone will contribute to CO2 emissions reduction during customers’ use, raw material procurement, distribution, reuse/recycle phases of the product life cycle, and from manufacturing where its local Brits plant has its own targets in line with the company’s global objective of attaining carbon neutrality by 2050.

Continental Tyre South Africa, in line with its international mandate, is striving for 100% emission-free driving, industrial products and factories. The company has committed to a three-step process towards achieving 100% climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest, along its entire value chain of products, operational processes and supply chain. Phase one looks at the direct emissions from its operations, phase two will focus on the indirect emissions from purchased energy and the final phase will take into account all emissions associated with the company’s activities. 

Goodyear’s Better Future framework outlines the company’s high-priority environmental, social and governance topics globally under four pillars – Sustainable Sourcing, Responsible Operations, Advanced Mobility and Inspiring Culture.

In December 2021, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company announced its goal to reach net-zero value chain greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, aligned with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and its new Net-Zero Standard. The company also announced its commitment to achieve near-term science-based targets by 2030, including reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 46% and Scope 3 emissions by 28%, as compared to a 2019 baseline. In December 2022, Goodyear submitted its science-based targets to SBTi for validation.

Finally, Sumitomo Rubber South Africa’s journey to net zero is aligned with its parent company, Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI), headquartered in Japan, and is based on the GENKI Sustainability Activity Guidelines of Governance, Ecology, Next-Generation Products & Solutions, Kindness, and Integrity. The company has declared a commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve carbon net zero by 2050. 

An aerial view of Sumitomo Rubber South Africa’s Ladysmith plant. In the past five years, SRSA has generated 1MW of solar energy, with a further 6MW in the pipeline. To further change its energy usage, the company has installed LED lights across all sites and electricity usage is closely monitored.
An aerial view of Sumitomo Rubber South Africa’s Ladysmith plant. In the past five years, SRSA has generated 1MW of solar energy, with a further 6MW in the pipeline. To further change its energy usage, the company has installed LED lights across all sites and electricity usage is closely monitored.

Renewable and efficient energy

All four SATMC members are taking steps to invest in renewable energy, which reduces reliance on fossil fuels. Bridgestone South Africa, for example, has had a successful renewable energy process, saving 7,4MWH between 2020 and 2022.

This entailed implementing the ISO50001 Energy Management System, introducing energy saving initiatives relating to compressed air efficiency, and installing variable speed drives and smart LED lighting.

The company has also implemented a green energy wheeling facility – which is a decentralisation of power supply – that uses renewable energy for all electrical energy requirements. This method has reduced emissions by 70% from a 2017 baseline.

In addition to the energy saving initiatives employed at its manufacturing facility, since 2020, Continental Tyre purchases EAC certificates for every MWh electricity purchased from the grid, to offset the carbon emissions from the electricity generation process following their commitment to greener energy. 

Goodyear’s target is to have transformed all its manufacturing operations and processes to 100% renewable energy by 2040 and so far, all its manufacturing facilities in Europe and Turkey are using renewable electricity.

In the past five years, Sumitomo Rubber SA has generated 1MW of solar energy, with a further 6MW in the pipeline. To further change its energy usage, the company has installed LED lights across all sites and electricity usage is closely monitored.

Manufacturing processes and value chain

Identifying processes that have a higher impact on emissions is key to achieving carbon neutrality. This analysis also opens the path to finding innovative ways of doing things differently. 

Bridgestone South Africa has collaborated with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the National Clean Production Centre (NCPC) to accelerate its transition towards carbon neutrality. The company has implemented the use of recycled carbon black, recycled steel and friction, and began the sustainable sourcing of natural rubber.

Given the fact that globally an estimated one billion tyres reach the end of their useful life every year, high on the agenda for the SATMC members is to reduce the negative environmental impacts of waste tyres.
Given the fact that globally an estimated one billion tyres reach the end of their useful life every year, high on the agenda for the SATMC members is to reduce the negative environmental impacts of waste tyres.

The Continental group aims to achieve carbon neutrality in its production by 2040, representing the second step on its three-step journey. As the third and final step, the company is committed to ensuring that its entire value chain, from the responsible sourcing of raw materials and partnerships with suppliers, to the utilisation of products by consumers and the recycling of products at the end of their life cycle, will attain carbon neutrality by no later than 2050. 

Goodyear has integrated sustainability throughout its organisation, looking at both inward and outward impacts across its business units and functions to achieve sustainable business outcomes. Within its four sustainability pillars, Goodyear is addressing Climate Decarbonisation and Resiliency, Circularity, Human and Labour Rights, and Supply Chain Governance and Transparency. Goodyear tyres already contain certain recycled materials, and the company is exploring additional opportunities and looking to work with customers to support beneficial reuses of its tyres.

Sumitomo Rubber South Africa has assessed its manufacturing process and plant facilities to identify environmentally friendly changes to the present systems and processes. As a result, 4% of natural rubber is currently sourced from the Ivory Coast, which not only supports intra-African trade, but has minimised supplier costs and further reduced carbon footprint. Other initiatives to support a carbon neutral space include tree planting at its Ladysmith plant, changing company cars to hybrid cars and water recycling and roof water harvesting in the Gqeberha warehouse.

Waste tyres

Apart from increased focus from all four manufacturers on improved tyre design to achieve, for example, low rolling resistance, also high on the agenda for the SATMC members is to reduce the negative environmental impacts of waste tyres. This is vitally important for globally, an estimated one billion tyres reach the end of their useful life every year.

To this end, the industry body is collaborating with the Tyre Importers Association of South Africa (TIASA), the Tyre Equipment Parts Association (TEPA) and the government to ensure that steps are taken to drive improvements and sustainability in both collection and processing of tyre waste. 

The SATMC wants to see that end-of-life tyres (ELT) are properly disposed of, or reused in a circular economy, where they can be seen as a useful resource. Its Environmental Committee meets monthly and has identified four key focus areas – Waste Tyre Road Infrastructure, Municipal Infrastructure Engagement, Renewable Energy Solutions and Community Projects Using Waste Tyres.

What is really encouraging about all this is that although competitors in the field, when it comes to taking action in mitigating climate change in their industry, all four local manufacturers are taking a collective effort to play a key role.

“As we inch closer to 2050, we know that only a collective and collaborative spirit will enable us to see a healthy future for us all,” says Chala.

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