Cooper is dedicated to producing products that meet and exceed all performance requirements. Cooper’s operations and products demonstrate our commitment to the environment.
The impact of a product on the environment is a function of how it is produced, the performance of the product during its useful life and how the product is disposed of at the end of its useful life. In its procurement of raw materials, in its production cycle, in the performance characteristics of its products and in advice to customers as to tire care and use, Cooper seeks to minimize the impact on the environment.
PROCUREMENT OF RAW MATERIALS
Tires are generally composed of natural rubber, synthetic polymers, carbon black and silica, steel and polyester or nylon cord, rubber chemicals and oil. Cooper's tire plants typically process 500,000 to 1 million pounds of raw materials each day.
Natural Rubber Alternatives
Natural rubber (NR) is a significant U.S. import (approximately $3.3 billion) with approximately 10 million tons of NR being produced annually for commercial use with tires serving approximately 80% of this demand. NR comes from Hevea brasiliensis or better known as the Brazilian rubber tree. NR is essential for national security because it provides performance characteristics not available from synthetic, petroleum-derived rubber. Unfortunately many regions of the world where NR comes from are economically and politically unstable. It is projected that future demand of NR may outpace supply.
As a result, creation of a domestic alternative NR industry would reduce the export of capital from our economy, create a significant number of green jobs in our country, and contribute to the sustainability of our industry. Cooper is working to develop two alternative NR sources.
Cooper is working with PENRA (Program of Excellence in Natural Rubber Alternatives) which is a collaborative effort with The Ohio State University, Oregon State University, University of Akron, U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), Ford Motor Company, Bridgestone, and Veyance Technologies. This consortium is working to develop a high-quality natural rubber from the taproots of Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TKS), better known as the Russian Dandelion. The goal of this work is to make TKS a commodity agricultural product. The work of the consortium will focus on 1) germplasm improvement, 2) enhancing agronomy management methods (seed production, irrigation, fertilization, pesticides and harvesting), 3) developing a bio-manufacturing process to extract the rubber from the plant, and 4) commercial validation and utilization of TKS in manufactured rubber products such as tires.
In addition, Cooper was awarded a $6.9 million grant from the USDA to develop guayule NR as an agricultural commodity product to be grown in the American Southwest. Guayule is a perennial hardwood shrub native to the North American desert. It produces significant quantities of NR between the stem and bark of the plant with moderate agronomic inputs. Cooper has partnered with Yulex Corporation – a leader in guayule crop science and renewable products made from guayule, universities, and the USDA-ARS. This four-year grant will focus on 1) development of a genomic library as well as applied molecular breeding tools, 2) enhancing agronomic practices, 3) developing enhanced rubber extraction manufacturing processes, 4) testing guayule natural rubber as a strategic source of raw material in tires, 5) evaluating the remaining biomass of the guayule plant as a source of bio-fuel for the transportation industry, and 6) completing a comprehensive system-level sustainability analysis that will direct future development of guayule as a domestic industrial crop in ways that ensure environmental, societal, and economic sustainability.
In 2005 the European Union (EU) issued EU Directive 2005/69/EC which limits the concentration of certain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in oils used in the manufacture of tires sold in EU member countries. Cooper and its subsidiaries manufacture tires in China, Europe and North America that are compliant with the directive.
One of the main product characteristics that contributes to greater fuel economy and conserves natural resources is tire rolling resistance. Rolling resistance is the force required to maintain the forward motion of a tire in a straight line and at a constant speed. For a tire, some of the “mechanical energy” needed to keep the tire rolling is converted into “heat energy” and it is this energy loss which is referred to as rolling resistance.
A good example of how Cooper is working to protect the environment is with the introduction of the ultra-fuel efficient product known as the "GFE" (Greater Fuel Efficiency). The GFE tire showcases Cooper’s compounding technology with an innovative tread stock featuring a unique silica technology married with a specialized polymer to provide low rolling resistance, outstanding wet grip and long tread life. Cooper's Energy Return Technology will be a backbone for future low rolling resistance products in the years ahead. The lower rolling resistance of the GFE can reduce fuel use by approximately three percent resulting in substantial fuel cost savings and considerable reduction in green house gas emissions.
Cooper is working to lead the tire industry in the development and commercialization of ultra-fuel efficient technology. In 2011, Cooper was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop advanced fuel efficiency technologies over a three year time period. The objective of our project is to develop a "concept tire" that will significantly improve rolling resistance while lowering the overall tire weight by 20% with no compromise in tire performance. To accomplish this goal, which will improve fuel economy while conserving raw materials, Cooper is exploring six different technologies in the areas of innovative tire design, materials and reinforcement technologies. As these technologies develop, they will be considered for future products.
SmartWay Verified Low Rolling Resistance Truck Tires
Launched in 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) SmartWay Transport Partnership program recognizes verified technologies, products and services that reduce freight transportation-related emissions (including low-rolling resistance tires).The EPA says companies that participate in SmartWay Transport programs save money, reduce fuel consumption and are recognized for their social responsibility and leadership.
Cooper offers a full range of long haul, radial medium truck tires that are SmartWay verified as they meet the SmartWay program's stringent low rolling resistance criteria which helps to reduce fuel consumption, ultimately cutting costs and benefiting the environment. The Cooper Roadmaster RM180 long haul steer tire, RM851 drive tire and RM871 trailer tire are all SmartWay verified. The RM185 regional steer tire is also verified. The RM871 is being supplied as original equipment to a number of trailer manufacturers in the U.S.
Cooper's transportation group uses the SmartWay-verified Roadmaster tires on the Cooper trucks that transport our tires. The trucks are also fitted with aerodynamic features and engines that meet the SmartWay standards.
Cooper’s European plant in Melksham produces remold materials, which are used to retread worn tires, thus recycling the tire casing for a second (or more) life. Among the remold materials produced by Cooper Europe are low rolling resistance tread compounds which aid the user to reduce fuel consumption and generation of exhaust gases.
Cooper embraces its role as an advocate in our industry to protect the environment. As a member of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) since January of 2006, Cooper participates in studies to identify and address potential health and environmental impacts of materials associated with tire manufacturing, consumer use, and end-of-life disposal.
A summary of the WBCSD work can be found at the following link: www.wbcsd.org/work-program/sector-projects/tires.aspx
Cooper furnishes tips on tire care and tire use to its customers and the driving public. These tips promote fuel efficiency and help extends the life of tires. Tire maintenance information can be found here: http://us.coopertire.com/Tire-Safety/Tire-Maintenance.aspx, and tire safety tips can be found here: http://us.coopertire.com/Tire-Safety/Tire-Safety-Tips.aspx.
Scrap Tire Management
For more on Cooper Tire's scrap tire management efforts, please visit www.coopertire.com/Corporate-Responsibility/Environment/Scrap-Tire-Management.aspx.