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Tyres

In 2001 the study Life Cycle Assessment of an Average European Car Tyre (Prè Consultants B.V. on behalf of BLIC, 2001) highlighted the substantial environmental impact of a common tyre during its useful life, which is far greater than its impact during the other two phases, production and end of life.

According to this prestigious publication, about 90% of this impact is attributable to fuel consumption due to friction between the tyre and the road surface, while the remaining part reflects the impact of the results of this friction (i.e. tyre debris). It has been estimated that during its life cycle, a tyre produces debris accounting for between 10% and 14% of the tyre's weight.

The impact of these debris particles is still being studied at the international level.

The Pirelli Group is monitoring this issue through a continual exchange of information and experience with other tyre manufacturers, by participating on the specific working group set up by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

In order to minimise the environmental impact associated with tyre use, Pirelli is constantly engaged in the design and development of compounds and product lines that, by using new materials, innovative internal structures and different tread designs, can reduce rolling resistance while guaranteeing the same durability and performance of the tyre. Pirelli is actively developing and using a series of new, increasingly ecological materials for compounds.

In 2009 Pirelli conducted research on raw materials from renewable sources that will lead it to produce ecological silica derived from food processing scraps (rice husks) by 2010.

Raw materials are selected in order to reduce as much as possible the use of substances that are harmful to humans and the environment. Accordingly, Pirelli systematically evaluates the environmental and toxicological characteristics of any new chemical before using it in production processes.

Pursuant to recent European classification, labelling and packaging rules for hazardous substances and preparations, Pirelli has updated the list of substances that cannot be used in production processes, or for which replacement programmes have been initiated.

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Pirelli Cinturato: environmentally friendly innovation and performance

Environmental friendliness, safety and performance are the key features of the new Pirelli Cinturato, whose innovative compounds, structure and tread patterns ensure lower consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, greater durability and improved safety characteristics under both wet and dry conditions.

In particular, the new Cinturato, available in tread sizes P4, P6 and P7 (dedicated to the premium car segment) and featuring ECOIMPACT on the sidewall, can reduce rolling resistance by 20% and energy consumption by 4%, while increasing overall mileage by up to 30% in the case of the P4 Cinturato line.

The new generation compounds used to fabricate the tyre, not only in the portion subject to wear and tear or in the tread portion but also inside, since 2008 call for extremely limited use of highly aromatic oils in full compliance with the new regulations that came into force on January 1, 2010.

The tread pattern also offers improved acoustic comfort, by reducing tyre noise levels both inside and outside the vehicle.

In 2009, new green performance products like the “Snowcontrol serie II”, “Ceat Formula Winter” and “Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season” joined the Cinturato family.

All of these new models, like the ones that are currently being designed, share the same eco-sustainability characteristics: improved energy efficiency (with reduced carbon dioxide emissions), external noise abatement that already complies with the strict new noise limits imposed by the European Union that will come into force in November 2012. These features are complemented by improved grip on wet surfaces, enhancing safety even under the most extreme conditions.

Moreover, the new tyres benefit from lighter structures, with a positive impact on disposal at the end of their life cycle.

A focus on the green performance of the New Cinturato Pirelli follows.

Lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The new Cinturato cuts rolling resistance by 20%, thus providing savings of up to 4% in terms of fuel consumption and harmful emissions. Rolling resistance is the opposing force of the tyre to vehicle movement, i.e. energy dissipated while driving.

Together with mechanical resistance and air resistance, rolling resistance impacts fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. Rolling resistance depends on factors both outside (vehicle speed and weight, type of road surface, air temperature and tyre pressure) and inside the tyre, such as structure, compounds and tread pattern. In designing the new Cinturato, Pirelli has made changes to all these factors, introducing innovative solutions covered by Pirelli patents.



Improved durability: thousands more miles

The tread compound of the new Cinturato has been reinforced with specific ingredients to extend the durability of the tyre without sacrificing grip characteristics. In addition, the tyre geometry has been completely redesigned, from sidewall to tread, in order to strike the right balance between rolling resistance, durability and safety. These improvements have increased the average durability of the Cinturato P4 line by 30%. This means changing tyres once every four years rather than every three years for a “normal” driver.

Elimination of harmful substances

Pirelli eliminated highly aromatic oils from the new Cinturato’s compounds in 2008, before the applicable European Directive came into force. The impurities present in these types of oils consist of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are potentially harmful to human health.

These oils can represent a hazard for factory workers who, during the compound preparation phase – principally during measurement of the ingredients and loading of mixers – might be exposed to them.

Furthermore, the Group is actively working to replace these substances outside of Europe as well, even if the new regulatory restrictions mentioned above do not apply there.

The highly aromatic oils used as plasticizers in non-European countries continue to be phased out. It is expected that purchases of these substances will be reduced in 2010 from final 2009 levels, in concomitance with increased purchasing of mineral oils that satisfy the requirements set out in Appendix XVII of EU Regulation no. 1907/2006, as amended by EU Regulation no. 552/2009.

Noise abatement

One of the distinctive characteristics of the new car tyres is their significantly reduced acoustic impact. This simultaneously satisfies new European regulations that will come into force in 2012 and the expectations of car makers.

The purpose of the EU 2012 regulation is to reduce noise pollution, a cause of stress that is especially acute in large urban areas. For their part, car makers are interested in guaranteeing their customers the maximum possible level of comfort both inside and outside the passenger compartment. This corresponds with Pirelli’s interest in satisfying its end customers. Since 2005, reducing noise inside and outside the passenger compartment has been one of the objectives shared by all new product lines.

Recently introduced product lines will thus comply with the stricter limits to be imposed by the EU from November 2012, and have already received the praise of car makers.

Noise has been reduced by an average of 27% both inside and outside the vehicle.

Enhanced safety and performance

This is achieved by improved braking on wet and dry surfaces.

Safety, which along with high performance has always been the hallmark of Pirelli research and was already brought to maximum levels by the Cinturato back in the 1950’s, is the other key parameter according to which the new models were designed.

In particular, they offer improved road hold when cornering on wet surfaces and, most importantly, shorten braking distances. On wet surfaces, the stopping distance is reduced by 11%, while on dry surfaces the braking distance is also significantly reduced as compared with other tyres.

The Cinturato P7 is synonymous with ecology applied throughout the production process, from research to the end product and beyond. This is confirmed by the tyre scrapping campaign, financed entirely by Pirelli. Participants are offered a free coupon for fuel purchase if they decide to replace their current tyres with eco-compatible ones.

This product was also launched at the international level with “zero impact” (“Impatto Zero®”). The event, held April 3-8 at the International Test Track in Nardò, Province of Lecce, engaged over 500 guests in a marathon of dynamic tests, with the participation of journalists, testers and dealers from all over Europe. All carbon dioxide emissions generated by the static and dynamic presentation of the Cinturato P7 will be offset by the creation and protection of a new forest measuring 56,800 square metres in the Amistad Caribe Reserve in Costa Rica (the country with the world’s highest degree of biodiversity), which has already implemented courageous environmental policies to limit deforestation.

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“Truck” green innovation

The principal objective of research and development in the Truck Business Unit is to strike the right balance between all the characteristics that a tyre must have in terms of performance, total safety and environmental friendliness.

This means developing a tyre that is not limited to compliance with regulatory requirements governing integrity, eco-compatibility, and so on, but extends to all those elements or factors that a tyre must have to offer complete safety both for the driver and the world surrounding him.

In a truck tyre, eco-compatibility also means reducing weight, since this in turn reduces both the energy and the quantity of raw materials used to fabricate it.

The use of recyclable raw materials plays a key role in design.

Another key aspect is tyre durability: not only its first life, but also the number of retreads that can be realised on the same carcass translate not only into energy savings but also savings of raw materials.

This involves reducing its overall environmental impact while remaining focused on improving the product's performance.

Series 01: sustainable innovation

The year 2009 brought great satisfaction. The trailblazers were represented by the new FR01 and TR01. The technological innovations realised on the new Regional were adopted by other tyres in the Pirelli product line. These include the new semitrailer ST01 and the new 88 on-off and highway series (FH88 and TH88 Amaranto Energy). In this last user segment, the 385/65 R 22.5 FH88 tyre designed for transport of extremely heavy loads on the front axle represents an excellent balance between safety and green performance.

Environmental impact / legislation on tyre design

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Green Area Performance Area Green Area Performance Area

Economic management and retreadability

The R:01 series offers high mileage, up to an average of 30% more than the previous product. The new belt structure, combined with the SATT 0° spiral steel technology, improves durability during the first life of the tyre and further increases its total life through resculpting and several retreadings. This is complemented by reduced fuel consumption due to its low rolling resistance, for an annual estimated savings of 3%. The Pirelli Retreading System enhances the quality of the carcass and investment in the new tyre, reducing costs per kilometre, overall operating costs and environmental impact.

Pirelli quality is the same for all “lives” of the tyre. This is the aim of the Pirelli reconstruction system that is already available for all new products in the R:01, H88, G88 and ST:01 series. It was conceived to exploit the high quality of the worn tyre and is characterised by three key elements: design and production quality, the new line of Novateck products, and the network of selected retreaders. Pirelli maximises the retreadability of the carcass by starting with the quality of the design and materials of the new tyre. Consequently, the design is a key step. During development of the tyre, engineers take into account the variables that will play a role throughout its entire life cycle and have a major impact during reconstruction.

The Pirelli retreading system calls for use of the renewed Novateck belts that cover the entire range of new Pirelli products and reproduce the original treads in order to preserve the interaction between tread pattern and carcass unchanged, even after retreading. This enables the reconstructed product to maintain levels of performance and quality that are absolutely comparable to a new tyre.

Using qualitative audits, Pirelli selects and certifies a network of retreaders that it commissions to guarantee that the quality of the new tyre remain unchanged after each successive retreading process. Qualitative monitoring is carried out both during selection of the retreadable casings and during inspections of the retreading process, offering additional guarantees for the finished product. Pirelli has already selected about ten retreaders in Italy and about eight in Turkey, while it is selecting them on the Spanish and German markets.

Reduction of environmental impact.

The R:01 Series has many ecological features. Over the entire life cycle of the tyre, considering not only the reduction in consumption and thus harmful emissions, the high level of retreadability and durability compared with the old model, raw material use has been reduced by 20% and energy consumption during the manufacturing process by 22%.

Pirelli life cycle management

Pirelli life cycle management

The R:01 Series also anticipates new Europe noise abatement regulations.

The new tyre reduces noise from 76 to 73 decibels (ahead of the EU regulation that will come into force in 2012). This reduction is equivalent to 50% reduction in perceived noise, as if two lanes on a four-lane motorway were absolutely silent.

Tyre life: environmental impact

Tyre life: environmental impact

Energy savings of Series 01 compared with existing products

Energy savings of Series 01 compared with existing products

Safety and comfort

Economical and environmentally friendly, as well as offering high safety standards. The R:01 Series guarantees better handling than existing products under all road conditions, including the most challenging ones, in dry or wet weather, improving traction and confirming the excellent dry braking performance of Pirelli products.

Thanks to the new second generation SATT belt structure, the new Regional line permits further improvements in passing performance, steering precision and absorption of road surface shocks, increasing overall comfort.

The integrated Pirelli design has focused on the interaction between design, materials and structure.

New regional line: products and performance

New regional line: products and performance

Innovative design

This is one of the highlights of the new Series R:01, which was designed and fabricated by optimising all components of the tyre, from compounds to tread pattern.

This approach can be summarised by four acronyms:

  • 3SB, i.e. Three Sandwich Belts, which are the superimposed belts that lengthen tyre life, offer consistent performance, retreadability and improve handling.
  • DLTC, or dual layer tread compound: one compound is external, optimised to increase mileage, increase road hold and shorten braking distance; the other is internal, to reduce rolling resistance and ensure greater structural integrity.
  • HBW, or HEXA Bead Wire, a ring that allows maximum flexibility during assembly, facilitating retreadability and ensuring stability and durability.
  • FRC, or fully rubberized cord for belt, which reinforces the tyre.

Innovative materials.

The materials used for the Series R:01 are protected by three Pirelli patents. They are highly eco-compatible, mainly due to the absence of highly aromatic oils and reduced zinc oxide content. But that is not all: they are designed to guarantee maximum economy and emissions reductions, as well as facilitate retreadability.

Product innovation: new design

Product innovation: new design

Innovative structure.

The belt and heel load-bearing structure plays a key role in truck tyres. Forty years of Pirelli experience is concentrated in the Series R:01. In 1970 Pirelli patented the use of zero degree metal belt technology for commercial vehicle tyres.

Continuous technological evolution led to the invention of new belting formats, including:

  • zero degree strips
  • the SATT spiral technology used in the Amaranto Product lines, leading to the SATT NEXT structure used in the new FR and TR:01 line.

Product innovation: materials portfolio

Product innovation: materials portfolio

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Green technology: Cyber™ Tyre "Lean"

Normal use of a car whose tyre pressure is 20% less than its nominal pressure can cause fuel consumption to increase by up to 3% (with a consequent increase in air pollution). Studies by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board have shown that for every 0.2 bars of under inflation, there is an average increase in fuel consumption of 1%. Furthermore, tyre pressure that is 20% below what it should be causes irregular wear on the tyre tread and consequently increases wear and tear by 25%, which translates into a 30% reduction in the lifetime of the tyre.

This is precisely why a tyre pressure monitoring system needs to be installed on the car. The simplest, surest and most economical way to increase the life of one’s tyres, reduce gasoline, diesel or gas consumption and reduce the pollution caused by particulates released in the atmosphere is to inflate the tyres on one’s car to their proper pressure (i.e. the pressure specified by the car maker, which is normally indicated in the relevant section of the vehicle user and maintenance manual) and constant, periodic controls.

Pirelli is now able to offer the most evolved system for measuring tyre pressure and temperature on original equipment: the Cyber™ Tyre “Lean”.

Consisting of a sensor that is little bigger than a 2 Euro coin mounted on the tyre inside the rim, it is the first step towards a radical transformation of the tyre into an active system capable of transmitting data and information necessary for maintaining optimal pressure under all vehicle load conditions, with benefits both in terms of fuel consumption and driver safety.

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End-of-life management of tyres (ELT)

As previously mentioned, a tyre's end-of-life phase makes a small contribution to the overall environmental impact of the entire life cycle of the tyre and has a decidedly less impact than those stemming from the use and production phases. Among the various final disposal options, burial in a landfill is by far the least desirable in terms of environmental compatibility. European Union Directive 1999/31/EC has prohibited disposal in landfills of entire end-of-life tyres (ELTs) since 2003, and of fragmented ELTs since July 2006.

About 3.3 million tonnes of ELTs were produced in Europe in 2008; 95% of these were recovered or recycled.

Trends of EU management of ELTs

Trends of EU management of ELTs

Source: ETRMA (European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers’ Association)


The Pirelli Group has been dedicated for years to research on the management of ELTs, considering the major environmental benefits resulting from their recovery and recycling.

Through cooperation with Pirelli Labs, a number of possibilities have been developed for ELTs in terms of recovery of the raw materials that comprise them (“material recycling”), and recovery in the form of high-energy fuel (“energy recovery”), as a valid alternative to the use of fossil fuels.

This can include:

  • the use of ELT granules in the production of sound insulation products;
  • the production of powder to be used in the tyre production process;
  • the use of ELTs to produce Pirelli CDR-Q, a fuel derived from high quality waste.

Tyre recycling diagram

Tyre recycling diagram