How Michelin is reducing and repurposing its factory waste
Life cycle analyses show that production represents 6 to 10% of the total environmental impact of a tire. A figure to take into consideration but which should be compared with use which represents between 80 and 95%.
Production: between 6 and 10% of the environmental impact of a tire
So innovation strategy is first focusing on reducing the ecological footprint in the use phase.
And, within a logic of responsibility, the industry is also looking to reduce its footprint during the production phase.
Since 2005, Michelin has been measuring its environmental impact
For all its factories and research centers (77 around the world), the Group has been measuring the six main effects of its industrial activities since 2005 :
- energy consumption
- water use
- VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds)
- CO2 emissions
- Quantity of waste
- Quantity of waste landfilled (not repurposed)
Today, waste is an important part of this indicator: 30%.
50% improvement by 2020
These six components are covered by one single indicator, the Michelin Environmental Footprint (MEF) which helps the Group plan, measure and assess progress made every year by its different industrial and research sites. With as an objective for 2020 halving our MEF compared to 2005 levels.
Waste: a significant footprint
We have already made excellent progress. In 2017, within a context of moderately increased production, our MEF has already improved by 24.7% on 2010. All its components are moving in the right direction:
- Energy consumption -15,9%
- water consumption -27,1%
- VOC emissions -28,4%
- CO2 emissions -30,7%
- generated waste -6,7%
- waste not repurposed -58,8%
With two major types of waste produced
- Downgraded manufacturing waste (DMW): This is all the scrap from the tire manufacturing chain: elastomers, mixes, non-compliant tires, etc.
- Industrial waste (IW): this is all the other type of waste: wooden pallets, electrical and electronic equipment, sludge, etc.
Two repurposing directions
- Material repurposing: using waste as a raw material instead of “virgin” raw materials.
- Energy repurposing: using waste as a substitute fuel (cement plant, ironworks) or incinerating the waste and collecting the energy.
A policy based on three principles
Today, our waste prevention and management policy is based on three key principles:
- Reducing the quantity of waste generated (in particular by reusing waste)
- 100% repurposing of waste generated
- A material repurposing rate of at least 70% through the development of external channels for innovative recycling.
Exemple : rubber recycling, "Mixing" service
Nearly all waste repurposed
In total since 2005, the quantity of waste generated during the manufacture of one ton of tires has fallen by around 27%, from 140 to 102kg (3.6% less in 2017 than in 2016). The quantity landfilled dropped by over 85% (33 to 4.2kg) over the same period.
In 2017, the overall repurposing level (material + energy) was nearly 96%. Material repurposing has been between 65 and 70% for several years now. Only around 7% of the waste generated in 2017 was classed as dangerous, according to national legislation.
Indicators tracked by the Group Executive Committee
Finally, concerned with further accelerating the group’s progress, last year the Group Executive Committee created four specific “MEF” programs:
- Volatile Organic$
Each program has two objectives:
- Ensure achievement of the MEF 2020 objective, in particular sharing best practices;
- Prepare the future by defining ambitions for 2050, and intermediary targets to help reach them.
An ambitious objective
Each specific component of the MEF is steered by a program manager. He or she is supported by a multi-disciplined expert team who carry out mid- and long-term opportunity and feasibility studies. The programs’ strategic directions are managed by the Group’s Environmental Governance which includes three members of the Executive Committee. Proof of how important Michelin believes these issues to be.
Remember that the objective for 2005 was very ambitious: halve the environmental impact by 2020! We’re nearly there...and Michelin is doing everything to make it happen!
Repurposing waste is one of the pillars of energy transition
Gérard POUZET, Safety and Environment Department
What is your job at Michelin?
I am responsible for coordinating the Group Waste policy in all our factories throughout the world. I work with relay-managers in every one of our 77 sites. The idea is that wherever we are, we share the same vision for these issues and we have one “Waste” policy that is applied everywhere.
Let’s talk about that. What is the Group’s vision for its waste?
It’s quite straightforward. First, reduce the amount of waste produced as much as possible. Remember that “waste” first and foremost means unnecessary consumption of resources.
You don’t like this word very much...
No I don’t! The problem is that unconsciously, we don’t give any value to “waste”. But in reality, in a circular economy “waste” is an economic and environmental asset. We genuinely need to see our waste as secondary raw materials that we must look after. That’s a very important point. In my opinion, “waste” is one of the pillars of energy transition and sustainability.
What are the main principles behind our policy?
As I was saying, number one: produce the least waste possible. Number two: aim for “zero landfill”.Landfilling is always the worst solution...
In reality, how do you go about it?
Firstly, implementing permanent awareness measures for all our staff. In particular through our relays on sites with “Waste” managers. This involves developing best practices, in particular the internal reuse of materials or products (repair, regeneration, decontamination). Locally, we regularly organize challenges in this area.
Everyone needs to get onboard and feel concerned by these issues. The Group’s ambition is to really accelerate this awareness, with everyone’s involvement and commitment. We insist a lot on the notion of cost, for the company but also the environment.
For more technical materials, this also involves repurposing waste like the raw materials in our own tires. For everything that cannot be used directly, we work with our partners. Finally, we also work with other partners to produce energy. Which is far better than wasting fossil fuel energy! All these levers explain the excellent performance of the “Generated waste” element in the 2017 MEF.
When tires are being designed, is the quantity of waste produced taken into account?
Yes, from the design phase we do try to integrate product recyclability as much as possible, even if sometimes it is very complicated. In any case, it is one of the aspects we look at and about which we are consulted.
What about end-of-life tires?
For used products at the end of their lifespan, setting up technical and economic systems for recycling and material or energy repurposing is a major challenge. The Group is ready to face this challenge in every country, working with all concerned stakeholders. For many years, Michelin has been working on effective solutions and continues to play a leading role. Studies in 2017 showed that 69% of tires marketed by Michelin and other tire manufacturers are collected every year and processed in a large number of countries by channels that are accredited or certified compliant by local regulations. In the European Union, the processing rate reaches 95% for repurposing companies like Aliapur, in France.
Today, some sites have the reputation of being ahead of the game... Can you give us a few names?
No, no names but I can say that today, the repurposing rate of our industrial waste is nearly 96% for the entire Group: 57 of the 77 sites have a repurposing rate above 95% and 34 have achieved the “zero landfill” target. These are exceptional figures, bolstered in particular by the “zero landfill” project in North America.