Sustainability as a service.
In February, 2021, Michelin announced an extremely lofty goal for 2050: To create 100-percent sustainable tires. Other tire companies are also shifting toward greater sustainability goals in 2021—at least, on paper. Would any other tire manufacturer step up and make such a bold statement, though?
It turns out that Bridgestone has also set its sights on the year 2050. In the recently-released Bridgestone Sustainability Report 2020-2021, Bridgestone CEO Shuichi Ishibashi explained that 2020 marked the beginning of what the company calls “Bridgestone 3.0.” The Bridgestone Group was originally founded in 1931, which marked its first iteration. In 1988, the company merged with Firestone Tire & Rubber Company, which it also considers as the start of its second iteration. Bridgestone 3.0, Ishibashi says, is all about becoming a “sustainable solutions company.”
Naturally, achievement of this goal involves several areas where the company wants to show progress. Bridgestone says that it aims to drop its carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent by 2030 (with the baseline for comparison being its emissions in 2011). By 2050, Bridgestone’s current goal is to achieve complete carbon neutrality.
One of the guiding principles by which Bridgestone aims to achieve this goal is by “accelerating our ambition to decouple business growth from environmental impact and resource consumption.” That’s probably necessary for any business to get serious about addressing environmental concerns. As you’re probably well aware, what’s good for the planet is frequently at odds with what’s best for a company’s bottom line. The thing is, you need a functioning planet if you want to have a company with a bottom line to worry about in the first place.
The full report delves into the different facets of Bridgestone’s sustainability goals for 2030, as well as 2050. One highlight includes the expansion of tire recycling to return old tires to raw materials so it can recirculate those resources and commercialize that process. It plans to move forward with a commercial tire recycling solution by 2023.
Bridgestone also wants to expand its use of fuel-efficient tires, in addition to improving durable truck, bus, and light truck tires to both prevent irregular wear patterns and also allow for multiple retreadings. By 2030, it says, the recycled and renewable proportion of materials used in its tires should be up to 40 percent—and then 100 percent by 2050.
It’s a high bar to reach, but if the company has decided that it’s in its best interest, it will likely devote the necessary resources toward achieving that goal. There are nine years left until 2030, and 29 years until 2050. Can they do it—and more importantly, will they?