I would like to buy tyres for my car knowing that the raw product was sustainably sourced, workers producing the tyre were fairly paid and had safe working conditions and that the tyre will be recycled when it has worn out. Sound like fantasy land. This was possible 30 years ago but due to globalisation, the shifting of production to third world countries to chase profits at the expense of people and planet all that has changed. Including the closure of the last tyre manufacture factory in Australia in 2010. So what is the best scenario I can find in 2017?
Tyre Recycling and buying from a local retailer - right lets start with recycling as this seems to be where the most headway has been made. You can find retailers who are accredited for environmental sustainability in relation to the management of end-of-life tyres at Tyre Stewardship Australia. http://www.tyrestewardship.org.au/search-accredited-entities. I then looked for a local retailer. Bob Jane T-marts https://www.bobjane.com.au/ are the largest independent tyre retailer in Australia and are accredited. If you have a local tyre retailer that is not accredited why not ask them about their disposal practices and encourage them to become accredited?
Shopping around on price is still important given the cost of tyres - most retailers will price match so you can get what you want where you want.
Want to see what cool products are made from your recycled tyres check out Tyrex http://www.tyrex.com.au/Products.aspx.
I actually found a blog about Green Tyres https://www.tyroola.com.au/blog/green-car-tyres-driving-the-industry-forward/...did not even know these existed and the good news is that you can save 320l of fuel over the life of your tyres - that's money back in your wallet. Eco-friendly tyres reduce the fuel consumption levels of vehicles, thus lowering CO2 emissions. The blog is full of stats if your interested. You can buy green tyres from Bridgestone, Goodyear, Michelin and Pirelli at a similar cost and performance as normal tyres but save on emissions and save you money.
If you don't want to change tyre brands then simply keeping your tyres at the recommended pressure will reduce fuel consumption by between 3 per cent and 5 per cent.
What about sourcing the raw product and manufacture of tyres? Well, information is very hard to come by....have they got something to hide? Probably, but there are signs that the corporations are starting to take steps to improve particularly in the sourcing of rubber because they are so reliant on this raw material. Here are the good news highlights of my Google search:
- The latest news is that GM is committed towards a move to net-zero deforestation caused by rubber farming. This move, if followed by other car manufacturer would have a big impact as a report by the World Wildlife Fund shows that tyre production accounts for 75 per cent of the world's natural rubber market.
- Michelin have partnered with the WWF to work with mainly small-scale growers to ensure they remain profitable, sustainable and environmentally friendly.
- Researchers are looking at ways that food waste can be turned into rubber compound.
Just so you know whats involved in sourcing the raw material - Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand make 70% of the world’s rubber. The process of growing and harvesting rubber from trees is laborious. From the time you plant the tree it takes five or six years before any harvesting can begin. Then every day for the next 20 to 25 years of the tree’s life it has to be sapped. With rising labor costs and increased land values, rubber producers are either closing down or increasing their prices. In addition to the decrease in supply, there’s an increase in demand from nearby behemoths China and India.
By no means is this an exhaustive investigation into arguably one of the dirtiest industries - but hopefully we can take these smalls steps in the right direction.
Comment below if you can add more information to this article. Also, let us know if this was a useful article or if you have any more questions.