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Jim Motavalli Visits Bridgestone

Bridgestone Americas recently hosted Jim Motavalli at a number of its facilities in middle Tennessee. Mr. Motavalli is a freelance journalist who writes regularly about the auto industry and the environment. He regularly contributes to the New York Times’ automobiles section and has also written numerous books and has contributed to a number of magazines, websites, newspapers, and blogs. Mr. Motavalli also writes comprehensive environmental reports for the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to his writing, Mr. Motavalli also lectures on transportation and environmental issues and hosts a bi-weekly radio show.

While he was visiting with Bridgestone, Mr. Motavalli had the chance to visit the Firestone Complete Auto Care store in Smyrna, TN. This store has been recognized for its strong environmental performance, having achieved LEED Gold certification. The store, which opened in June of 2009, achieved the second highest certification level, LEED Gold, by incorporating a range of environmentally preferable features, including improved indoor air quality from the use of low-VOC paints, stains, carpets and sealants; ultra low-flow plumbing fixtures that will reduce water consumption by 30%; solar panels that generate 12.5% of the building’s electricity; a reflective metal roof that lowers heating and cooling costs; sidewalks using recycled rubber from tires; and landscaping that does not need a sprinkler system, thanks to the use of 100% recycled rubber tire mulch and native and drought tolerant plant species.

Mr. Motavalli also visited the Warren County, TN tire plant and its associated BEECH wildlife habitat site. In 2008, the Warren County Plant outshone tire plants across the world by becoming the first LEED-certified tire plant in the world and the second existing manufacturing building in the US. The Warren County Plant earned LEED Silver certification for an existing building, generally considered to be far more difficult than building from scratch.  The Bridgestone Environmental Education Classroom and Habitat (BEECH) at the Warren County plant combines wide-ranging lessons and interdisciplinary environmental education. Students learn outdoors through field studies and in a hands-on classroom.

After his visit to the Firestone store, Mr. Motavalli wrote an article on the Mother Nature Network website about the recyclability of used tires. The Firestone store in Smyrna makes extensive use of recycled tires in the pavement surrounding the store and in the bedding for the local, drought resistant plants that live and grow on store property. While the ultimate goal is to turn used tires into new tires, i.e. “cradle to cradle”, tire recycling has become an environmental success story for all the ways that tires are now reused. Tires are used for pavement enhancers, playground materials, mulching, and tire-derived fuel. As Mr. Motavalli states in his article, “We’re not at slam-dunk stage with old tires, but we’re at least rolling down the road.”

To help keep “rolling down the road”, Bridgestone Americas began the Tires4ward program, which is founded on the vision of a waste-free tire industry. For every tire Bridgestone Americas sells in the U.S., the company makes sure that one spent tire (or any tire that has been taken out of use) goes on to another valuable purpose. Bridgestone company-owned retail stores have now achieved 100% valuable use of the spent tires they take in. Bridgestone Americas also supports community clean-ups across the country by collecting tires recovered in community clean-ups of public spaces, watersheds, rivers and waterways at no charge. Citizens who participate in any organized clean-up of public spaces, watersheds, rivers and waterways may request Bridgestone’s help in ensuring community-recovered tires are sent to a new, valuable use by completing the form found here. Bridgestone will pick up any spent tires recovered during community clean-ups free of charge.

To find out how you, too, can get involved with our Tires4ward program, please visit our site.

Towards 100% Sustainable Materials — Soybean oil

In August of 2012, Firestone Agricultural tires introduced a tire composed of 10% soybean oil. The 900-pound farm tire is marketed under the Firestone brand of agricultural tires and contains approximately 90 pounds of soy oil. The typical application for the tire is on large four-wheel drive tractors where eight tires are used. The new tires can save around 720 pounds of petroleum-based products per tractor and are a great step forward for Bridgestone’s long-term goal of using 100 percent sustainable materials in its products by 2050.

“The soybean oil has replaced all the different petroleum-based processing oils used in the tire’s compounds,” said Tom Rodgers, director of sales & marketing at Bridgestone Americas. “Engineers and compounders from our Americas Technology Center, and also the company’s Des Moines agricultural tire plant, have been working on this concept tire project for several months. Based on the progress of the project, we expect to begin incorporating soy oil into some of our agricultural tires by early 2013. Our goal is to have soy oil as a component in all of our agriculture tires by the end of 2013.”

Through soybean processing, one bushel of soybeans yields approximately 11 pounds of soy oil. The concept tire on display used roughly eight bushels of soybeans to yield the 90 pounds of soy oil. Soy meal and soy oil are the primary yield in processing soybeans. Soy meal is a key ingredient in pork and poultry feed as a protein additive, and is the driver of demand in processing. Soy oil is typically in surplus compared to meal and, additional use of the oil helps to balance the demand between soybeans, soybean oil (soyoil), and soybean meal (the soy complex), reducing meal and feed prices.

The tires are produced at the Bridgestone Firestone Agricultural Tire Plant in Des Moines, Iowa. The Des Moines Tire Plant is the first agricultural tire manufacturing facility to receive ISO 9002 certification. Established by the International Standards Organization (ISO), ISO 9002 is a series of standards and guidelines on quality management and quality assurance. Being ISO 9002 certified ensures a high quality for the tires produced at the plant, and will help Firestone Agricultural products expand throughout the global marketplace. In addition to being ISO 9002 certified, the plant is also ISO 14001 certified, which ensures that environmental issues are systematically identified and managed.

Given Bridgestone’s long-term goal of using 100% sustainable materials in its products by 2050, the use of soybean oil in agricultural tires is an important step in the research and product development phases. Many other efforts will be required as Bridgestone moves closer towards its goal, but this is one of many innovative steps and a demonstration of how sustainable materials can be incorporated into the company’s product line.

Quietly Setting the Bar: Bridgestone’s Four Global Firsts in Sustainability

Bridgestone teammates work every day to bring superior products to market. Perhaps just as impressive as these revolutionary products are the cutting edge processes involved in their production.   Over the past two decades, Bridgestone’s focus on innovation and consistent enhancement of manufacturing practices have yielded significant positive impact to the environment.


Great Results

Recent technological innovations and implementations of hydrogen fuel cells, waste to energy, recycling, and retreading have occurred with little to no fanfare. Through these innovations and implementations, Bridgestone has quietly compiled an impressive list of global “firsts”:

1.      World’s First two LEED certified tire plants

2.      World’s First Superior Energy Performance (SEP) Mature Pathway ISO 50001 certification

3.      World’s First Underwriters’ Laboratory Environment (ULE) 100% Zero Waste to Landfill certification

4.      World’s First Fortune 500 company with “one for one” product capture and repurpose goal.

This post explores these “firsts” and how Bridgestone is reshaping how tires are made.


World’s First LEED Certified Tire Plants

According to the U.S. EPA, 36% of U.S. total energy use and 65% of electricity consumption come from buildings. Fortunately, there is a growing movement of environmentally-friendly building practices. The movement has been led by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. LEED, in short, provides proven measurement and scoring standard for reducing energy consumption, conserving water, improving indoor air quality, and building better buildings.

The objectives of Bridgestone’s environmental mission (to be in harmony with nature, to value natural resources, and to reduce CO2 emissions) are exemplified in the design and construction of its manufacturing sites. Bridgestone set an early example and pioneered the first two LEED-certified tire plants in the world. To become LEED certified, a building must obtain a certain number of points based on a variety of environmental construction and operation criteria.

The Warren County Plant (Tennessee)i earned LEED (Silver) in 2008, and the Aiken Plant (South Carolina) became LEED (Silver) certified in 2009.

The Warren County Plant’s history of environmental performance moving towards excellence is long and extensive.  For years the plant pioneered conservation improvements including the use of clean energy hydrogen fuel cells in automated-guided vehicles in the plant. Energy-efficient lighting, hi-tech fans, and resource-conserving fixtures in restrooms are also part of the Warren County plant’s environmental conservation efforts. The Warren County facility has significantly reduced energy consumption and has reduced water consumption in the plant by more than 8 million gallons a year. The feat is even more impressive given that the Warren County Plant is an existing building built 19 years before the LEED certification.

The Aiken facility followed suit soon after with its own impressive environmental achievements for LEED credits. The plant reduced emissions from equipment by converting to bio-fuels, replacing paper towel dispensers with air hand dryers, installing waterless urinals, upgrading to more energy-efficient light bulbs, installing negative pressure smoking hoods and establishing high-priority parking zones for carpoolers and hybrid vehicles. The 37 new waterless urinals and sensor faucets will cut annual water consumption by nearly 1.5M gallons — enough water to supply seven houses for one year. The facility’s new energy-efficient light bulbs increase light levels, lower mercury levels and have almost double the lifespan of previous bulbs.

In addition to the manufacturing sites, our Firestone Complete Auto Care retail store in Smyrna, Tennessee, achieved LEED (Gold) certification in 2009.

Bridgestone’s early adoption of LEED has strengthened the bottom line and is a great symbol for our environmental commitment.


World’s First Superior Energy Performance (SEP) Mature Pathway ISO 50001 Certification

In 2012, Bridgestone set a global first by achieving Superior Energy Performance (SEP) Mature Pathway ISO 50001 at our Wilson County Manufacturing Plant (North Carolina). The SEP Mature Energy Pathway encourages companies to implement more than 50 best energy practices and requires a 15 percent reduction in energy use over the previous 10 years to receive recognition.

SEP is sponsored by the U.S. Council for Energy-Efficient Manufacturing and encourages energy reduction above and beyond the ISO 50001 requirements. Between the years of 2001 and 2011, the Wilson County Plant has made verifiable energy savings of 16.8 percent. To create these savings, plant teammates and leadership again turned to innovation and dedication to performance. Some of the savings came from switching the primary fuel source to natural gas in its boilers, shutting down equipment when not in operation, promptly repairing steam and air leaks, insulating piping and executing several lighting optimization projects. Other  projects include finding other beneficial-use markets for waste materials. For example, some waste that could not be recycled is now being used as “waste to energy”, meaning it will be combusted in a process that generates energy instead of sitting in a landfill.

These best practices will continue to be spread across operations facilities, increasing the impact of Bridgestone’s superior energy performance.


World’s First ULE 100% Zero Waste to Landfill Certification

Recently, Bridgestone earned the world’s first UL Environment (ULE) 100% Zero Waste to Landfill certification. According to UL, industry facilities in the U.S. generate and dispose of approximately 7.6B tons of industrial solid waste each year. Unfortunately, landfills can have negative impacts on environmental and human health: toxins can leach into the groundwater, methane gas can pollute the air we breathe, and land needed for ecosystem preservation or growing food is wasted.

Bridgestone is taking action to verify and communicate its best practices and consistently send zero waste to landfills. The Wilson Plant (passenger and light truck tires) became the first facility of any kind to receive this prestigious validation. Of the three levels of landfill waste diversion validated by Underwriter’s Laboratory, Zero Waste to Landfill is the highest.

Bridgestone initiated the process over a year ago, beginning with setting site goals in February of 2013. The facility had to undergo an extensive, two-part, UL Environment-led audit, which included document evaluation and on-site visits. During the evaluation process, UL verified Wilson’s Zero Waste to Landfill claim with 14 percent waste to energy, determining that a majority of the facility’s waste to energy diversion — 11 percent — is the best possible use for that material. Again, innovation helped Bridgestone step up to the plate in this global first. Teammates began looking for beneficial uses for what was once landfilled waste, i.e. they looked at markets like recycling or resale or materials once thought of as “scrap” or “waste”. Facility leadership worked closely with disposal partner Waste Management Sustainability Services to identify all of the remnant waste materials from manufacturing processes such as whole scrap tires, rubber components and packaging, as well as ancillary support processes such as offices and cafeterias. Together, Bridgestone and Waste Management successfully found other beneficial-use markets for these materials.

This achievement highlights Bridgestone teammates’ hard work and continues to position the company as a leader in identifying and implementing innovative solutions to support environmental sustainability.


World’s First Fortune 500 Company with “one for one” Product Capture and Repurpose Goal

Often, one of the largest impacts of a company’s impact on society and the environment is at the end of the product lifecycle, meaning what happens to a product once it has been used. In 2012, Bridgestone became the first Fortune 500 company to commit to a “one for one” product recapture and repurpose goal.

As a part of the innovative Tires4Ward Program, Bridgestone set forth the vision for a waste-free tire industry. The program is designed to ensure that for every new tire the company sells in the United States, one spent tire – a tire that has been removed from use – is sent to another valuable use.

In 2012 when the program was launched, the Rubber Manufacturers Association measured the rate for tire recapture at 85%. Even though Bridgestone already led the industry with a 98% recycling/repurpose rate for tires across our 2,200 Bridgestone Retail Operations (Firestone Complete Auto Care and Tires Plus brand) stores nationwide, we decided to set the bar higher. After launching the Tires4Ward Program, 100% of spent tires coming into the 2,200+ Firestone Complete Auto Care and Tires Plus stores were sent to valuable use in 2012.

In addition to the one for one commitment, the Tires4Ward Program launched a service offering that provides scrap tire collection for community and river clean-up events. Any River Network or independently organized clean up event can request tire recycling support free of charge from Bridgestone. So far, over 250 community cleanups have occurred with Bridgestone and partners picking up the spent tires recovered. Nearly 70,000 tires in total have been collected from communities and rivers and sent to valuable uses. That’s over 1.3 million pounds of tires – the weight of about 44 city buses.

One of the biggest advances that is contributing to tires being valuably reused is the Bridgestone Bandag Retreads Business. Retreading is a process that takes a structurally sound tire and replaces the outer tread, making it possible to be used multiple times (up to 4-5 times for truck tires). Retreaded tires contain up to 75 percent recycled content. Manufacturing one new truck tire takes 22 gallons of oil. Most of the oil is found in the casing, which is reused in the retreading process. As a result, it takes only 7 gallons of oil to produce a retread.

Retreading not only helps to reduce the total cost of tires, but also makes a major environmental contribution in terms of the more effective utilization of natural resources. Bridgestone’s investment and commitment to retreading and sending tires to valuable uses adds to the industry-leading performance in sustainability.


Not Our Last “First”
These “firsts” highlight Bridgestone’s commitment to environmental sustainability.  These accomplishments started with daily actions that grew to larger scale innovation. Now, as Bridgestone sets the bar high for companies in all industries, we will continue to innovate as we make the best products in the world for you and strive for more “firsts”.

Ecopia Tires Fuel Savings Calculator: How Much Do Tires Matter? 

Bridgestone’s Ecopia tires are some of the most fuel efficient tires on the road today. Their high performance makes them the perfect choice for an environmentally mindful and cost conscious consumer — whether you drive a Prius or a tractor-trailer.

In order to better communicate the potential cost savings provided by our Ecopia line of tires, we have put fuel savings in terms the consumer can understand — tire efficiency is improved by reducing the rolling resistance between the tire and the road. The type of car upon which the tires are installed also has some impact on their emissions and cost saving benefits.

To tailor and present the impact of Ecopia tire installation to specific customers, Bridgestone has developed a fuel savings calculator. Given information such as type of vehicle and fuel economy, the calculator determines expected fuel savings over the life of the tire. The goal is to provide tire shoppers with the means to accurately weigh costs and benefits, then determine if Ecopia tires are a warranted investment.

The fuel calculator requires the following information to make its estimate:

* Class of customer’s vehicle (sedan, SUV, etc.)

* Fuel efficiency of vehicle (MPG)

* Current cost of fuel ($/Gallon)

The calculator then returns estimated cost savings over the life of the tires and provides a link to Ecopia tires appropriate for the car’s make and model.

The fuel calculator is a valuable means of establishing a concrete reference point for potential savings. Because it may be difficult to track fuel savings on a tank-by-tank basis, the fuel calculator assimilates all information to prove that over the life of the tire, small numbers can add up to sizable savings.

To get started, please visit the Ecopia fuel calculator website and start saving!

Bridgestone Costa Rica Aiming to be Carbon-Neutral

In 2007, the country of Costa Rica set an ambitious goal to be the world’s first carbon-neutral country — they are aiming for year 2021. Bridgestone’s Costa Rica plant engaged with this rally towards sustainability by setting a goal to become the first tire manufacturing company to obtain C-Neutral Certification by the Costa Rican government.

The plan is straightforward: If Bridgestone Costa Rica can reduce CO2 emissions, implement additional CO2 reduction projects, and enable CO2 mitigation enough to add up to the amount of CO2 emissions, then they can achieve C-Neutral.

In a formula, that looks like this:
CO2 Emissions – CO2 Reduction Projects – CO2 Mitigation = 0 = C-Neutral

Bridgestone Costa Rica (BSCR) developed a C-Neutral Strategy and has begun working to implement it. The process looks like this:

* GHG Inventory – Taking a GHG inventory allows BSCR to determine the volume of current greenhouse gas production and a method to continue monitoring GHG emissions.

* Internal reductions of GHG – Next, BSCR can begin determining actions to reduce their GHG emissions through energy efficiency, new production methods, renewable energy, and more.

* New projects – BSCR will continually search for projects to save energy and reduce GHG emissions, and implement them on a prioritized basis, depending on each projects projections.

* Carbon credits – Through the success of reductions, project results, and mitigation, BSCR can obtain carbon credits through the national carbon market.

* Achieve C-Neutral – BSCR is projected to reach C-Neutral by 2016.

So far, Bridgestone’s Costa Rican site is making serious progress on internal energy reduction and CO2 savings. They’ve reduced energy consumption through the installation of LED lights and solar lamps, and switching to green chemical products and analyzing the use of raw materials is also making an impact. The company also implemented a carpooling program and achieved an Environmental Seal for company vehicles. Finally, the facility site is developing additional conservation and biodiversity protection goals that will help mitigate CO2 in the future.

Two additional projects are planned to continue the path towards C-Neutral. First, a system to replace hot water in a curing process with nitrogen will significantly reduce energy use. Then, an old and less efficient boiler is being replaced by a boiler that uses biomass – essentially waste from wood processing – for fuel. Combined, these two projects will reduce emissions by 11,600 tons CO2e. Through these many changes and purpose – driven decisions, Bridgestone Costa Rica will set a precedent for a large shift in how manufacturing is perceived.

The Bridgestone Costa Rica team is charting a new course in Bridgestone’s journey to helping create a sustainable society. That journey is one of bold choices, hard work, and ingenuity. Together, we can create better products and a healthier world.