ROME, Ga. — Pirelli North America Inc. has agreed to work with an Atlanta-based road-safety non-profit to advance research and solutions in areas such as technology for road safety, circular economy, EV charging infrastructure, renewable energy and environmental and social impacts of tires and roads,
The partnership is with The Ray, an enterprise set up in 2014 to help develop a net-zero highway testbed on an 18-mile stretch of Interstate 85 in western Georgia, near the Pirelli factory in Rome.
As part of the non-profit's advisory board, Pirelli will contribute to the strategic thinking around roadways of the future. Financial details were not disclosed.
One specific area of research Pirelli will pursue will be the impact of rubber-modified asphalt and re-use of tire material, including the use of tire-derived aggregate for stormwater galleries.
In addition, Pirelli said it is joining a multi-tiered partnership focused on tires and the circular economy — driving education, innovation, solutions development and sharing of best practices.
"Being part of sustainability solutions that extend beyond just our product is an important part of our commitment to climate action," Maureen Kline, vice president, public affairs and sustainability, Pirelli North America, said.
"We know that tires are the one thing between the vehicle and the road. By working with The Ray, we can join forces to identify challenges, develop solutions and drive real change."
Tire design will have a key role in shaping the future of mobility, Pirelli said, and this partnership demonstrates the firm's commitment to pursuing increasingly challenging goals in terms of sustainability. Among sustainability efforts Pirelli is pursuing is a goal to increase the renewable and recycled content of tires and reduce environmental impacts.
In addition, Pirelli is focusing on mitigation strategies for the broader impacts of its products, including end-of-life tires and tire and road-wear particles. The partnership with The Ray will look at areas of mitigation as Pirelli seeks to become an even better steward of its products.
"Pirelli leads from Georgia, with an advanced manufacturing facility that was the first Forest Stewardship Council-certified tire plant in the world," The Ray Executive Director Allie Kelly said.
"This partnership with Pirelli will bring The Ray one step closer to achieving the net-zero transportation goals."
The Ray is a non-profit and "living innovation lab" focused on sustainable highway transportation and setting standards for the roadways of the future. Current projects include:
- The use of highway rights-of-way for solar arrays;
- Cloud-based data management for connected vehicle safety and efficiency;
- The use of drones first responders;
- Establishing pollinator gardens for endangered species; and
- Further deployment and impact of bioswales.
The Ray defines net-zero in transportation as "Zero Deaths, Zero Waste, Zero Carbon and Zero Impact," and facilitates the building and scaling of clean transportation and energy projects with transportation agencies, including Georgia and other state departments of transportation, tollway and turnpike agencies, regional collaboratives, and local governments.
The Ray was established in 2015 by the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, which has contributed nearly $5 million to the enterprise's founding and ongoing operation. The foundation was created by the family of Anderson, founder and chairman of carpet and industrial fabrics producer Interface Inc., following his death in 2011 and dedicated to fostering his concepts of sustainability.
The State of Georgia honored his legacy in 2014 by naming the stretch of I-85 that extends from exit 2 to 18 in western Georgia the Ray C. Anderson Memorial Highway.