A tiny piece with a huge impact – spring vents help reduce CO2 emissions

Pekka Penkkimäki CEO

The world has been transformed. While the COVID-19 crisis hit us hard, the worldwide disruption has also had an immediate positive effect on the climate. Pollution and greenhouse gas emissions have unexpectedly fallen across continents as countries try to contain the spread of the new coronavirus and industries, transport networks and businesses have closed down.

Unfortunately, the drop in CO2 emissions is, for the moment, temporary and far from enough to permanently mitigate global warming. The emissions will likely revert to pre-pandemic levels if global economies resume as before. However, there are valuable lessons to be learned. One is that also the smallest things matter when they are globally employed. Even minor changes in the way we produce and consume can help reduce emissions and achieve a more sustainable green economy.

In tire manufacturing, using spring vents technology is one such minor thing that has a huge potential. Representing an option to forget the small but functionally important hairs on the tire surface, spring vents lead air out of the mould without leaving the undesired stubble behind. This keeps the tire surface flawless, smooth, better-looking, and better qualified for labelling.

Yet, the biggest benefits are not aesthetic but environmental. Letting the rubber spikes evolve just to cut them off creates unnecessary waste. Each tire trimming produces approximately 28 grams of waste rubber. That may sound little unless you calculate some more. Tire factories with a standard annual production rate of 10 million tires produce as much as 280 tons of this extra waste in a year. Globally, with an annual production of 1,5 billion tires, it means an annual saving of 42 000 tons in rubber consumption when using a method that prevents the rubber residue from forming. In a more illustrative way, with 42 000 tons of rubber, we could produce millions of new tires. However, unlike with some other materials, vulcanized rubber is waste that cannot be recycled. It has to be avoided in the first place.

Further to the carbon footprint: studies show how an average new tire produces approximately 30 kg CO2 emissions per kilogram, of which up to 10 percent can be addressed to manufacturing and raw material emissions. This equals to approximately 3 kg of emissions per rubber kilogram. Thus, by saving 42 000 tons in rubber materials annually we could reduce global CO2 emissions by 126 000 tons. Not a small thing anymore.

Hence, in the tire industry, spring vent technology is one of the little things that can make a big difference. Although the main reason for choosing spring vents lays currently in expectations on higher productivity, the decision has more wide-ranging positive effects. It is a simple action worth embedding for the longer-term fight against climate change.