Sustainability: A Driving Force for the U.S. Tire Manufacturing Industry

By Sarah Amick, USTMA Vice President Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability and Senior Counsel

Despite the current deregulatory environment in Washington, D.C., emphasis on reducing emissions and increased lifecycle thinking continues to advance in the business world. Corporate sustainability initiatives spark innovation and environmental progress as sustainability requires companies to go beyond ordinary compliance with the law. For the U.S. tire manufacturing industry, sustainability is a driving force. 

The U.S. tire manufacturing industry has a strong sustainability story to tell. All U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) members are committed to sustainable manufacturing: advancing safety through innovation, reducing environmental footprints, eliminating historical scrap tire stockpiles while growing economically and environmentally friendly scrap tire markets, increasing worker safety and being responsible corporate citizens. Tires are a key part of the automotive supply chain and, as the only vehicle part that touches the road, tires contribute greatly to vehicle safety and fuel efficiency.

As an industry, we have made significant strides in these key areas. For example, the tire industry has successfully worked with stakeholders to reduce the number of stockpiled scrap tires from over one billion in 1990 to about 67 million in 2015 – a 93 percent reduction. Today we continue to identify economically and environmental friendly markets to consume the nearly 250 million scrap tires generated annually in the U.S.

Additionally, tire manufacturers continue to advance scientific research on tires and tire materials to make our products more sustainable. All USTMA member companies participate in the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Tire Industry Project, which works to identify and address the potential health and environmental impacts of materials associated with tire making and use.

As USTMA members actively engage in a variety of sustainability efforts, external forces also seek to shape the industry’s sustainability narrative. Corporate investors, customers and retailers are directing sustainability reporting for the industry, with each group creating a different set of metrics to measure progress. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also seek to influence manufacturers’ efforts to implement sustainability efforts.

USTMA member companies continue to grow their commitments by embedding sustainability principles into their core business. In addition to individual company efforts, USTMA members are hard at work to develop a shared sustainability vision for the future that encompasses product performance and innovation, tire materials, environmental stewardship, scrap tires, worker safety, and corporate citizenship. When finalized, our vision and principles on sustainability will form the core of a flourishing sustainability culture and story that U.S. tire manufacturers can share and measure over time, and provide guidance to third party groups about the key sustainability initiatives for the U.S. tire manufacturing industry.

Our industry’s sustainability efforts are deeply rooted in a foundational belief in environmental stewardship. USTMA is excited to be working with our members to finalize an industry sustainability vision that will demonstrate what the tire manufacturing industry is doing collectively to advance sustainable mobility that is safe for society and the environment.

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