Do you realize that every item you see around you has been transported on tires at least once? And how many times a week do you need tires to get somewhere? There are currently an estimated 830 million tire-equipped vehicles on our planet that are responsible for 20 percent of CO2 emissions, one of the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. These numbers are expected to double by 2030.
While many drivers favor environmentally friendly mobility, most are unaware of how tires influence their vehicle's energy efficiency and environmental impact. For the last decade major tire manufacturers have been seeking ways to make their industry more environmentally friendly. Their efforts have also been dedicated to building awareness among people of how much difference their choice of tires can make to the environment. Today a responsible driver is offered a variety of products that ensure better mobility and sustainability of the planet over the long term.
To better understand the impact a tire makes on the environment, let’s first look at the Tire Life Cycle.
Life cycle refers to the different stages a product undergoes from manufacture to use to removal from service, in other words from raw material to waste. The life cycle of a tire begins from a caouthuc tree in the southern hemisphere, e.g., Indonesia or Thailand. The life cycle spans the manufacture of raw materials and products, storage, and many rounds of transportation. The tire’s actual life cycle ends, for example, when the tire is crushed and used in land construction. The life cycle can be roughly divided into four parts:
1. Procurement and manufacture of production inputs such
as raw materials and energy.
2. Tire manufacture
3. Use of tire
4. Utilization of used tires
Contrary to common belief, a tire has greatest environmental impact – up to 86 percent- when it is in use on the road, not during manufacture or disposal. Keeping this in mind, tire manufacturers have introduced products with lower tire rolling resistance, more optimized weight, internal structure, tread design and tread compound in order to reduce vehicle fuel consumption and its emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.
What is tire rolling resistance?
Every time a tire rolls down the road, it encounters friction with the road surface and the weight of the vehicle which causes its shape to change. As its structure changes, the tire’s components heat up. The heat means that energy from the engine is not delivered 100% to the tires, thus resulting in energy waste. This is called tire rolling resistance. Tire rolling resistance is one of the main forces the manufacturers are researching in order to create more fuel-efficient and eco-friendly tires.
Let’s now look at the overview of several major tire manufacturers and their innovative approaches to environmentally positive mobility.
In 15 years, Michelin has developed no fewer than four generations of Michelin green energy saving tires, clear proof of the importance given to protecting the environment and preserving energy resources. The challenge to which Michelin is responding is to design tires that help reduce fuel consumption while maintaining the same high performance levels in other areas.
Compared to conventional tires on the road, the 570 million Michelin green energy saving tires sold worldwide have reduced fuel consumption by an estimated 2.38 billion gallons, resulting in a reduction of CO2 emissions of 25 million tons, the equivalent of the amount absorbed by 880 million trees in one year. This means that each second 11.6 gallons of fuel are saved and 240.6 pounds of CO2 are not released into the atmosphere.
Many of Michelin's most fuel-efficient Original Equipment (O.E.) and replacement tires are branded with their Green X symbol to provide visual confirmation of the tire's positive contribution to vehicle fuel efficiency and the global environment.
The application of the Green X symbol is determined by laboratory testing on a model-by-model, size-by-size basis. It is Michelin's guarantee that the tire provides a level of energy efficiency among the highest in the market for its category without compromising other key characteristics, such as traction and tread wear.
Michelin is leading the effort to create an energy efficiency index system for car and truck tires.
Leading the rest of the industry, Yokohama Rubber launched in 1998 the DNA series of eco-tires, which offer reduced roll resistance and contribute to improved fuel efficiency of vehicles. Since then, the company have continued to pursue development of new products and improvements in quality, and now the DNA series has an excellent reputation as an environmentally sound product. Presently, the lineup consists of eight types of tires. The latest product in this lineup is the DNA dB super E-spec tire for passenger cars. The DNA dB super E-spec is made from 80% Non-petroleum Resources and is Yokohama Rubber’s flagship environmentally sound product, and was developed with the aim of producing the ultimate eco-tire that contributes to the global environment in every possible way. It is made from a variety of new materials and technologies that raise environmental performance, including a new compound made using orange oil called
Super Nano-Power Rubber, and offers the largest reduction in rolling resistance of any
tire in the DNA series (20% less than the DNA dB ES501). The proportion of materials used to make the tire that are derived from non-petroleum resources has also been raised to 80%, contributing to conservation of limited petroleum resources.
One of the Hankook’s approaches to create better products is its implementation of Kontrol Technology.
Kontrol Technology is a philosophy as well as set of proprietary innovations – applied throughout research, development and production – developed by Hankook Tire to ensure controlled driving experiences.
The “K” denotes “kinetic” and reflects the idea that the interaction of the tire with the road while in motion lies at the heart of driving control and performance.
In order to provide enhanced benefits to customers and fundamental to its business, Hankook Tire applies the highest standards of quality to all its products in terms of safety, driving comfort, handling, performance and environmental friendliness.
No matter what the situation, whether performing at the highest level of world motor sports or driving your children to school on a rainy day, Hankook Tire strives to provide it customers with tires that control the vehicle efficiently.
The result of Kontrol Technology is tires that provide a range of driving benefits across four areas that customers identify as key when choosing quality tires: Performance; Safety; Comfort; and a tire’s impact on the Environment.
- Performance technologies improve handling, driving stability and durability under different conditions;
- Safety technologies ensure that the integrity, design and material composition of tires remains true when most needed during dangerous driving conditions;
- Comfort technologies remove stress from driving experience by limiting noise, vibrations and harshness based on a profound understanding of how tires perform in real world situations;
- Environment technologies minimize tires’ impact on the environment and help customers save money by increasing the durability of tires.
Hankook’s newest line of eco-friendly tires introduced in 2010 is enfren, which realizes a CO2 reduction of 4.1g/km.
Nokian Tyres’ environmental protection policy stems from tire life cycle thinking. This means that the company acknowledges its responsibility for the environmental impacts of its products and activities over their entire life cycle. The company’s purchase policy states that the suppliers’ commitment to environmental affairs is investigated as part of the procurement process. All contract partners, such as contractors and subcontractors, must be committed to Nokian Tyres’ principles:
Clean raw materials
Nokian Tyres is the world’s first tyre manufacturer to introduce a manufacturing method using only purified, low-aromatic oils. In order to improve grip in icy and wet conditions, a renewable raw material, canola oil, is used in the tread mixture.
On the frontline of safety
Continuous product development and testing at Nokian Tyres result in technical innovations that improve the tyres’ properties and increase the safety, comfort and environmental friendliness of driving.
Nokian Tyres’ tread patterns feature a number of noise-reducing innovations: the placing of tread blocks, protrusions in longitudinal grooves, and noise cavities reduce tyre noise.
The company monitors all its operations with sustainable development in mind. All of our raw material suppliers also go through the same stringent screening. Transparency also means fostering a spirit of fairness and enthusiasm in our work community, and being a good neighbour.
Nokian Tyres is the world’s first tire manufacturer to have fully eliminated high-aromatic (HA) oils in its production. The purified oils used by Nokian Tyres contain less polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) than required in the pertinent EU directive.
HA oils are the by-products of oil refining. The tire industry began using them in tire production in the 1950s. The oils, used as plasticising agents in the production of treads, facilitated the mixing of different raw materials and the refining of rubber compounds.
HA oils are classified as carcinogens because they contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
In tire production, HA oils can be replaced with non-labelled oils, that is, low-aromatic (LA) oils, which contain less than three per cent of PAH compounds. Studies show that this content of PAH compounds is low enough to render them harmless.
Clean, low-aromatic oils are produced by extraction from high-aromatic oils. This procedure removes nearly all PAHs from oil, converting them into low-aromatic compounds.
Bridgestone’s mission to serve society with products of superior quality is reflected in its Run Flat tires. These tires’ production requires fewer raw materials than conventional tires. Also if using these tires a driver does not need a spare tire or wheel, or a jack, which reduces the overall weight of a vehicle and improves its fuel consumption.
ECOPIA is Bridgestone's flagship brand of eco-friendly tires that focus on realizing a reduction in rolling resistance. ECPOIA tyres were developed at first as a tyre for electric-powered cars in 1991, In Japan, the Ecopia brand was enhanced for replacement market in 2002 as ECOPIA M881 and ECOPIA R221 series tyres for truck and buses were released. Bridgestone Japan launched the ECOPIA M812 tyre for light trucks in 2005, followed by the ECOPIA EP100 for passenger cars in April 2008. ECOPIA combines eco-friendly performance such as higher fuel efficiency and safety. It allows for reduced rolling resistance, which in turn enhances fuel efficiency. ECOPIA also reduces the production of harmful carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.It promises reduced rolling resistance without undermining safety in tire aspects such as wet and braking performance.
Bridgestone plans to further expand its range of ECOPIA brand tires, as well as extend the scope of coverage to the global market and their use on original equipment. By incorporating technologies used in ECOPIA tires such as NanoPro-Tech*2 into existing product lines, Bridgestone will expand its range of eco-products*3 and plans to make 100% of its passenger car tires for the replacement market in Japan (summer tires) into eco-products by 2014.
What you can do
• Tyres that have been manufactured without any toxic or
• Tyres that have been manufactured using only purified,
• Tyres featuring the best safety innovations
• Tyres that are quiet
• Information about the raw materials used in your tyres,
tyre makers’ working conditions, and the environmental
impacts of tyre production
You can lower your fuel consumption by up to 0.3 – 0.5 litres
per hundred kilometres by regularly checking your tyre pressure
and selecting tyres with low rolling resistance.
The pressure must always be checked when mounting tyres
on a car, and at least twice during the season.
The raw materials used in your tyres deserve a second life.
What you no longer need can be useful elsewhere.