In this year’s series of interviews, we interviewed the leaders of the members of the HTA, which was founded in 2011 and brings together international tyre manufacturing companies with production capacity and representation in Hungary. First, you could read an interview with the President of the Association, Mr. Péter Morenth: https://hta.org.hu/megkerulhetet-tenyezove-kivanunk-valni/
Since its establishment, HTA has been a member of the European Tire and Rubber Manufacturers Association (ETRMA), which is the central association of the European tyre industry. This time, we present an interview with Ms. Fazilet Cinaralp, the Secretary General of the Association. We talked about sustainability, environmental pollution, the future of mobility and innovation.
Cinaralp, tyre manufacturing technology is mature and has not changed much over the last few decades. Do you think there is still room for innovation in this area?
- The he strategy for climate decarbonisation and innovation in Europe will drive growth but will also require special focus on sustainability. We expect that future mobility will require not just a tyre performance evolution but even an integrated approach through sensors to exploit the full potential. Innovation in tyre technology, tyre manufacturing and materials will continue boosting research and development to address all these challenges. This is happening already now. Tyres are essential to the achievement of multiple functions within the mobility system. Above all, tyres are safety-critical (with defined and mandatory wet grip and snow performance requirements). Technical demands are accelerating; modern tyres quite rightly need highly-defined materials and closely-monitored processes. In addition, rolling resistance remains critical to CO2 emissions reduction. In addition, the latest technological developments around tyre’s digitalisation mean tyres can enable predictive maintenance and reduce traffic congestion.
How much more do you think a tyre made today can do compared to a tyre made twenty years ago?
- Tyres are no longer simply a vehicles’ contact with the road. The concept of Tyres-as-a-Service is growing fast as tyres play an increasingly important part in the entire value chain of a vehicle and in the mobility ecosystem. Technical demands are accelerating and today’s tyres need highly defined materials and closely monitored processes. We are introducing these concepts at the moment of design to make sure we have the right mobility solutions fit for the future.
What do you think are the best ways to integrate used tyres into the circular economy?
- In general, tyres are made of the best quality materials and therefore when the tyre reaches the end of its useful life, these materials still possess qualities and performances. The industry’s focus on greater sustainability has led to the development of alternatives for the materials used each year to produce tyres, much of which is from finite resources. In Europe, tyres at end-of-life are collected, treated and reintegrated into the economy through energy and material valorisation. More can be done to increase the sector’s resilience to supply chain disruptions and to enhance the availability of recycled materials on the EU market. Significant efforts are being directed toward recycling and to finding more sustainable sources of raw materials, like recovered carbon black. The effort to reduce end-of-life waste is also part of the equation circular economy begins with design, developing tyres for both optimal performance and longevity. To this end, there is an urgent need for the European Commission to accelerate the work granting end of waste status for End-of-Life Tyres derived material, such as recycled Carbon Black, Tyre Derived Oil, powders and reclaim material.
Tyre and road surface wear particles (TRWP) are tiny debris caused by the unavoidable friction between the tyre and the road surface during normal driving conditions. What solutions does the industry propose to reduce TRWP?
- For this answer, I need to provide some background. Tyre manufacturers are continuously improving the composition and structure of tyres to improve performance. Globally, under WBCSD’s TIP (World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Tyre Industry Project, https://www.wbcsd.org/Sector-Projects/Tyre-Industry-Project), the industry is also working towards filling some remaining knowledge gaps. The European tyre industry is also working on the development of a standard test method for measuring the tyre tread abrasion rate and exploring ways to address abrasion rates through supplementary measures. In addition to tyre design, many other factors are important to tackling tyre abrasion, including road surface and layout, weather, driver behaviour. Vehicle characteristics are also important, particularly weight, which is a major factor with electric vehicles. The tyre industry continues to support multi-stakeholder efforts to achieve science-based solutions to address tyre and road wear particles (TRWP) through the European TRWP Platform (https://www.csreurope.org/trwp). Environmental impact can be mitigated most effectively, therefore, by actively promoting a holistic approach to TRWP reduction as a guiding principle and considering TRWP from multiple angles, both in terms of generation and post-release management. Promoting further scientific research, and with advanced technological innovations in mind, a comprehensive State of Knowledge Study (SOK) was launched earlier in 2022 to assess and evaluate the current mitigation measures against TRWP. Over 60 measures have initially been earmarked. We are identifying the most effective approaches in terms of costs, benefits and practical feasibility, so hotspots for the first pilots can be selected and kicked-off as soon as possible. The result will help the industry and regulators in both Europe and the US.
How to move ahead?
- The European Commission is in a position to incentivise collective action, including awareness raising initiatives and specific work on hotspots, rather than drafting legislation and regulations targeting individual companies. The State of Knowledge report shows the complexity and the interplay between the different sectors (automotive, road construction, local communities etc.) and a direction should be set on how to foster this practical collaboration, starting from local pilots to then scale-up at a national level.
On the 10th November 2022, the European Commission published the Euro 7 regulation proposal for road vehicles. How does this affect tyre production?
- The whole package is an important element of the EU’s Green Deal ambitions to achieve climate neutrality and improve air quality. For the first time, it aims to extend emission rules from exhaust emissions to cover particles from brakes and tyres. The European Tyre Industry fully supports the EU’s goal of delivering cleaner mobility, which underpins the Euro 7 legislative proposal, and is committed to achieving technically robust and workable tyre abrasion standards. In our initial response to the proposal ETRMA highlighted, that future rules on tyres should be based on robust scientific evidence of their real-world impact on emissions. A UN- validated test method has to be developed before tyre abrasion limits can be defined. Therefore, the coordination between UN and EU regulations is crucial. Going forward, ETRMA we will continue to provide feedback to these international Institutions.