MILAN, Italy — Pirelli & C. S.p.A. has invested heavily in the past several years to incorporate sustainable materials — bio-based and recycled origin — into its tire manufacturing process, and now it wants the buying public to know it.
Starting with a select few tire models, Pirelli will begin marking tires whose material content is at least 50% bio-based and/or recycled with a bespoke logo — two arrows in a circle — that will help customers identify which products are more sustainable.
According to Giovanni Tronchetti Provera, head of sustainability and future mobility, Pirelli has reduced its environmental impact over the past several years by carrying out a materials-sourcing and manufacturing policy that has been confirmed by all the main sustainability indices.
This third-party oversight "recognizes our commitment and transparency both in terms of results and ethos," Tronchetti Provera said, while also allowing Pirelli to indicate the percentage of sustainable materials used by saying "at least" rather than "up to" whatever amount.
Adopting this policy and carrying it out also pays dividends with Pirelli's original equipment partners, which also "recognize and appreciate" the tire maker's efforts.
The first product on the market using the new logo is the P Zero E, a tire designed for use on electric vehicles, and as such carries Pirelli's "Elect" sidewall marking — denoting the product's reduced rolling resistance and noise generation — alongside the new sustainable logo.
The tire also is one of Pirelli's first with "RunForward" run-flat technology that allows a punctured tire to be used until reaching a repair shop.
With the launch of the P Zero E, Pirelli said it has achieved an objective set out a few years ago for reduced environmental impact that it thought then would take until 2025 to achieve.
The next step, set for selected product lines by 2030, envisages cutting the amount of fossil-derived ingredients to less than 30%, with bio-based and recycled materials accounting for at least 60% and 12%, respectively, of total material consumption.
Among sustainability measures Pirelli has instituted in the past few years include:
- Production of tires certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as using natural rubber and rayon that have responsibly sourced from plantations that promote biological diversity, while bringing economic sustainability to the lives of local communities and workers.
- The use of lignin — a scrap of the pulp and paper industry — as a sustainable alternative to carbon black.
- Rice-husk ash-derived silica as a replacement for fossil-based silica in reduced rolling-resistance tread applications.
- "Circular" carbon black derived from oil from end-of-life tires reclaimed using pyrolysis.
- Bio-circular polymers made from monomers derived from used cooking oils or tire pyrolysis oil. They are a replacement for fossil-sourced polymers.
- Natural rubber is obtained from the latex of Hevea Brasiliensis, the rubber tree. This is a material 100% derived from biomass.
- Bio resin-based plasticizers derived from vegetal biomass such as plant seeds (sunflower or canola) or forest-based resins. Bio resins are versatile ingredients, providing a better balance of dry and wet performance.
- Rayon as a cellulose-based fiber used as tire textile reinforcements.