Tyre manufacturer Goodyear South Africa has developed a mandate which encompasses its environmental and social responsibilities.
The ‘Zero’ mandate is represented by a triangular logo containing the targets of ‘Zero noncompliance’, ‘Zero waste to landfill’ and ‘Zero solvents’. This mandate is intended to underscore the company’s commitment to environmental awareness in its business and production processes.
Goodyear reports that its Uitenhage, East-ern Cape manufacturing plant and factory have initiated programmes to implement this change.
“Working to improve every aspect of the tyre manufacturing process is now an integ- ral part of the company’s culture. It is important that Goodyear is aware of the impact tyre production has on the environment,” reports the company.
Goodyear risk control manager Rene van der Merwe says: “We are emphasising the ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ mantra. A significant, phased operational campaign was introduced in 2008 to boost awareness of waste and what is required to reduce it.”
The operation initiated a ‘war on waste’, which started in the office areas with an introduction of different coloured bins allocated to several waste streams, such as paper, cans and ink cartridges.
The second phase of the campaign targets the factory shop floor. In addition, weekly awareness sessions, run by the training department, focus on issues such as threats posed by dumping dangerous and hazardous materials.
The recycling drive applies to recycling elements such as paper, cardboard, glass, tins, metal, wood, hard and soft plastics. Scrap tyres are recycled and used as alternative fuel. Scrap rubber is recycled for low-grade rubber products. Waste oil and solvents are recycled to be used as a bunker fuel for the shipping industry.
A waste contractor is responsible for the separation of all waste at the factory and for selling recyclable waste.
Natural Resource Management
A number of programmes have been implemented at the factory to save energy and to produce cleaner air. One such programme, for instance, has been finding and fixing a tar- geted number of air leaks every week. Good-year has equipped its artisans to do this.
Goodyear reports that, in light of the country’s energy problems, it has implemented a computerised programme that automatically turns off all heavy machinery when not in use. “Little things will make a big difference in the end,” says Van der Merwe.
Some of the processes and ingredients involved in tyre production are harmful to the environment.
A number of projects have been imple- mented by Goodyear to bring about the successful reduction of solvent use in the plant.
Further, cement use has been reduced owing as it contains large quantities of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which have toxic fumes. While VOCs facilitate the smooth production of certain earthmover and truck tyres, Goodyear has recognised the need to reduce its toxic output.
Goodyear technical manager for process engineering Stuart Shelver says that the company actively targets alternative methods of application, modifications that can be made to compounds and changes that can be made to manufacturing processes, in order to reduce solvent and VOC requirements.
“In the past year, Goodyear’s solvent usage has dropped significantly. Cement usage has already been eliminated from the full-stage tyre building machine processes and there are projects scheduled to reduce solvent and cement usage from all areas of production,” explains Shelver.
In fact, trials have begun to replace VOC-based cements and paints with water-based products, eliminating VOC exposure to the environment.
As an exporter, Goodyear further complies with the environmental laws and standards set out by European countries.
One such law relates to the use of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in aromatic process oils in rubber compounds, and nitrosamine-containing accelerators of the compound curing mechanism. When rubber compound is mixed, processed and cured, PAH carcinogens are released into the workplace and atmosphere.
“Goodyear has invested in additional tanks, alternative materials and other equipment changes that allow a reduction in the usage of aromatic oils and nitrosamine accelerators,” explains Shelver.
Internationally, cars are responsible for a significant percentage of greenhouse-gas emissions and other pollutant emissions.
Alongside the international branches of Goodyear, the company in South Africa produces tyres with lower rolling resistance, resulting in less fuel consumption and, therefore, lower carbon emissions.
In addition, biofilters to replace traditional filters have been developed by Goodyear.
Silica production consumes large amounts of energy, heavily reliant on oil. The experimental use of thermomechanically treated corn starch as a biofiller successfully eliminates the use of carbon black and silica in tyre compounds.
In recent news, Goodyear was awarded a research and development grant by the European Union’s European Commission to further develop its work in environment-friendly compounds and tyre designs.
For instance, tread design by Goodyear engineers has been successful in reducing noise pollution.
Goodyear public relations manager Lize Hayward says: “Goodyear’s engineers will continue to look for ways in which to make better tyres, in the most technologically advanced way and with the lightest impact on resources.”
In other news, Goodyear is conducting corporate social responsibility initiatives in the Eastern Cape. Projects have included the Save our Souls children’s village, the Oosterland youth centre and the St Francis hospice.
Moreover, Goodyear provides financial support for female students hoping to complete a two-year training course at the Port Elizabeth early learning centre.