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Part 2: A Sustainable Future With Carol Hochu

Autosphere » Tires » Part 2: A Sustainable Future With Carol Hochu
Carol Hochu, TRAC President & CEO. PHOTO Carol Hochu

For Part 1 of our interview with Carol Hochu, click here.


Part 2: Social responsibility, ecological considerations and advances in engineering

In the second installment of our video interview, Carol Hochu, President & CEO of the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada (TRAC), discusses environmental and social, as well as economic and technology initiatives the tire industry is working towards to ensure a vibrant, healthy and sustainable future.

Tire Industry Project (TIP), SDGs & Roadmap

Autosphere: What is the goal of the Tire Industry Project (TIP) and how do you see the effective implementation of Sustainable Development Goals, including TIP’s Roadmap initiative?

Carol Hochu: TIP is a sector project housed within the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

Founded in 2005, TIP is comprised of 11 leading tire manufacturing companies. It’s a global, voluntary CEO-led initiative and represents nearly two-thirds of the world’s tire manufacturing capacity.

The goal of TIP is to proactively identify and address the potential human health and environmental impacts associated with the lifecycle of tires.

The ultimate goal is to create a more sustainable future.

And certainly, if you went to the WBCSD website and looked under sector projects, there’s a whole section dedicated to TIP so again, for those who are interested in finding out more information, it’s a great place to go.

Regarding the Sustainable Development Roadmap, members of TIP announced in May of this year that they had launched a roadmap to accelerate the whole of the entire value chain related to specific Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These SDGs, of which there are 17, were adopted by the United Nations in 2015. All are integrated and they recognize that development must balance the three legs of the stool, those being social, environmental, and economic aspects.

The announcement in May by TIP was a culmination of many months of work to develop pathways that would maximize positive and minimize negative impacts in the supply chain relating to member operations and the products and services that are delivered.

A series of actions were developed towards eight of the SDGs which were deemed to be priorities, and two in particular that were highlighted were related to sustainable development goal number eight, which is decent work and economic growth.

The other, number 12, concerns responsible consumption and production. The program is ambitious; exciting and it will take everyone in the entire value chain [and frankly beyond] to work towards meeting those eight Sustainable Development Goals.

TIP is committed to reporting on it and TRAC is excited to support the work that is happening there.

Ice Traction

When it comes to ice traction: what’s the current situation and what are the next steps in this area?

CH: When you mention ice traction, I can’t help but think of Vanilla Ice and his 1990 hit Ice, Ice Baby! In all seriousness, regarding ice traction, work has been underway for the last few years to develop a common model for testing tire performance on the ice.

The International Standards Organization (ISO) is in the final stages of developing a standard which is expected before the end of this year. Additionally, the tire industry is working on a common pictogram or schematic.

This will help identify tires that meet the minimum threshold, as defined in this new ISO standard. Once the work is complete, consumers will have a new performance metric for ice traction in addition to the three Peak Mountain snowflake symbols for snow traction.

So, again, lots of great work in progress, and more good news to come in the months ahead.

Tire Rolling Resistance

In terms of tire rolling resistance, how are things evolving and what is the likely impact on this regarding the introduction of vehicles such as EVs?

CH: Rolling efficiency is the amount of energy required to maintain a tire’s rotational movement.

It’s one of several factors that affect vehicle fuel economy and I think as we all know in the broad discussion around climate change, better fuel economy means lower greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). In that context, lower GHG is a critical priority, not just for the tire industry but for everyone.

With that in mind, tire manufacturers are working to reduce vehicle emissions throughout a tire’s useful life and one way to do this is by designing tires with high rolling efficiency for electric vehicles. EVs require special tires for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the tires have to handle more weight compared to internal combustion vehicles, and secondly, they have to deliver more torque to the road when moving away from a stop.

Needless to say, I think all major tire companies are actively engaged in considering the unique requirements for low rolling resistance tires, both for EVs and of course, traditional internal combustion engine vehicles.

European Tire Labeling Law

What does the latest European Tire Labeling Law represent in terms of significance for the tire industry going forward?

CH: Today, we live in a global economy, so, we’re well apprised of what’s happening in other parts of the world.

My understanding is that the tire label in the EU has actually been renewed this year with new labels required for tires manufactured after April 2021.

The content of the label has been changed, as well as the way in which it is displayed.

The goal of this EU tire label is to provide choice for consumers—enabling them to decide which tires are eco-friendlier and which ones are more fuel-efficient, etc.

Back here in Canada, a consultation with the broader tire industry on tire labelling recently concluded and the Canadian government is considering all options for a type of Consumer Information Program that may include efficiency and wet grip, amongst other performance metrics.

Although currently, we are not as far along this path as the EU, our government is considering some type of consumer information program and obviously, we will keep your readers and viewers informed of any new development in this area.

State of the Tire Industry

Is there anything else you’d like to discuss regarding the state of the tire industry overall?

CH: It is definitely a very exciting time to be in the tire industry. I think I’ve shared with many people how my perceptions of this industry have changed dramatically since I joined in October 2020.

Tires are so much more than a black product that connects the car to the road surface. The high degree of engineering and technology that goes into them, as well as the industry’s commitment to sustainability and innovation, it’s all extremely fascinating and as I said, right now is a wonderful time to be in the tire industry. As we wrap up, I do want to provide a few tidbits as to where TRAC and the industry are headed.

Last year (2020), marked the 100th anniversary of TRAC and I can say with confidence, at least in Canada, there aren’t many leading trade associations that have that kind of history and pedigree of a century of operations I think it speaks volumes, not only to the member companies who were and are part of the association but the leadership from the board, committees and our staff as well.

Although COVID did set aside plans for a true celebration, the TRAC staff nonetheless put together a beautiful book to celebrate the people, the events, the challenges, the successes over those 100 years. If any viewers would like a digital copy, we’d be happy to share that. We’ve also seen a change in leadership with the wonderful Glenn Maidment retiring and it’s obviously my pleasure and privilege to serve as the new President & CEO.

TRAC continues to provide programs and services to our members including our twice-yearly winter tire and spring tire campaigns. Our most recent winter campaign focused on the importance of winter tires and their usage across Canada.

Our 2021 spring campaign also showed public opinion research that demonstrated the importance of tire maintenance. We discovered that Canadians have a deep desire and appetite to be out on the road this summer, whether it’s for vacation or visiting family and friends.

This is becoming more and more important now as COVID restrictions are lifting. When we probed a little bit about tire care maintenance—specifically tire pressures—we found that Canadians were a little bit ignorant in their knowledge of the importance of tire pressure and care and maintenance related to tires.

Tire maintenance is something that is really important when it comes to vehicle safety and the survey is something we’re happy to provide to our members.

Right now, we are also looking forward to planning our next winter campaign and hopefully getting back to a more normal state of things in 2022.

Hopefully, this includes a return to real, in-person industry events. I’ve met many people in this industry since joining last fall, but most of them have been via virtual meetings so I look forward to doing it in person and planning for more great things ahead.

 

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