Continental appoints sustainability leader

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Even with the ongoing Covid-19 saga affecting manufacturing companies in all markets, environmental sustainability remains a top priority, with two tire manufacturers making announcements to this effect.

As part of a drive toward improving its sustainability credentials, Continental’s Tire group has now bundled all sustainability activities and projects in a newly created department under the leadership of Claus Petschick as part of its ‘Vision 2030’ strategy program.

Petschick has worked at Continental for over 30 years, initially holding various positions in R&D and product development for the original equipment (OE) business before assuming the management of the tire plant in Hanover-Stöcken in 2007. Most recently, the 58-year-old construction engineer was responsible for global quality assurance within the tire sector as vice president, quality management, for over 10 years.

“With the creation of a dedicated sustainability organization under the leadership of Claus Petschick, we are consolidating our far-reaching activities and research projects and underscoring our commitment to further systematic expansion of sustainable business models and innovative products and services along the entire value chain,” explained Christian Kötz, head of the Tires business area and member of the executive board of continental.

The company’s sustainability strategy hinges around four strategic topics: climate change mitigation, clean mobility, circular economies, and sustainable supply chains. It says that in order to make the tires of the future ever more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly in terms of production, use and recyclability, it is systematically investing in the research and development of new technologies, alternative materials, and environmentally compatible production processes.

This includes, for example, the extension of product service life through retreading. Back in 2013, Continental already built the globally unique ContiLifeCycle plant in Hanover, Germany, for this purpose. Here, specially designed machine fleets with integrated retreading systems set new standards in the field of tire recycling.

A further central concern for Continental is to cease importing natural rubber exclusively from the tropics, but to produce it as close as possible to the tire plants in order to prevent the ongoing deforestation and reduce the CO emissions generated through long transportation routes.

In support of this goal, the company’s joint Taraxagum project with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) will supply natural rubber from dandelion plants, which can be used for producing motorcycle, car and commercial vehicle tires (it is currently being trialled on cycle tires).

Pirelli, meanwhile, announced that its targets for reducing CO emissions have been scientifically validated, with the group committing to being carbon neutral by 2030, with a goal to use 100% renewable electricity by 2025.

The company said its adherence to the UN-led SBTi (Science Based Targets Initiative) has validated a goal of reducing by 25% its absolute direct and indirect carbon emissions by 2025, compared with 2015. Additionally, it will target a 9% reduction in absolute CO emissions linked to the acquisition of raw materials by 2025 compared with 2018.

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