6Cs to build a resilient future

CEAT accelerates towards a greener future

Committed to sustainable development

Imagine a world with clean water, fresh air, and equal access to healthcare and education; a world where resources are abundant, and landfills unburdened. If the last year has taught us anything, it is this – we must urgently ramp up our collective efforts to make the earth a more sustainable and inclusive place to live in.

While individual efforts towards making the right and ecologically responsible choices make a difference, businesses, too, need to adopt purpose-driven goals and take a hard relook at how ‘green’ their operations are. The good news is that many global corporations have put sustainability at the core of their business, and RPG is among them.

RPG’s flagship tyre company, CEAT has been championing this approach by promoting eco-friendly practices, creating environmental and social value through its operations, products and services, fostering growth opportunities through its inclusive employment strategies, and supporting grassroots development through a host of outreach programmes. CEAT’s business model, built around safer, smarter and sustainable products, can also be tailored to meet future challenges and opportunities.

Small steps - Bold ambitions

A few months ago, CEAT embarked on an ambitious journey to reduce its carbon footprint by 50%, by 2030. To achieve this, the company incorporated the following United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (UN SDGs) into its plans.

United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (UN SDGs)

To be sure, this isn’t the company’s first foray into sustainability. Last year, CEAT became the first tyre company globally to publish an integrated sustainability report, putting the spotlight firmly on its commitment and strategies to achieve this dream. The company is committed to making mobility safer and smarter for all its stakeholders through positive environmental and social impact.

At CEAT, sustainability means a lot more than fulfilling its CSR obligations.

“In everything we do, there is a strong business linkage, and it benefits the environment and our stakeholders, notably our consumers. For example, we are investing significant effort and energy into R&D to give (consumers) a good life for their tyre while reducing its rolling resistance,”

Arnab Banerjee, Chief Operating Officer, CEAT

Across the industry, companies have been working on innovations to address the resulting waste problem while advancing a ‘circular economy’ — from creating sustainable natural rubber that would help reduce deforestation to developing new technologies that repurpose scrap tyres for road construction and in the production of new tyres.

Being at the epicentre of the sustainability debate, the tyre industry continues to be ahead in the adoption curve for ‘green’ practices. However, there continue to be challenges, and CEAT is geared up to address these.

Adopting a green mindset

To ensure that this was an inclusive exercise, various stakeholders at CEAT, such as members from the Executive Committee and the Future Leaders Board, employees from within the organisation and experts from the industry, were roped in. Task forces were set up to benchmark against industry peers and identify global issues that the company could be involved in, especially relating to the tyre and manufacturing industry. Goals and KPIs were established, key projects in the environment, social and governance domains were identified and prioritised.

Over the years, CEAT has continued to work towards building a sustainable future. The company has adopted various measures across the spectrum to achieve its sustainability goals – for all its stakeholders, including partners and employees – by 2030.

Most of CEAT’s manufacturing facilities have adopted solar power to address their energy requirements. The company has also rolled out initiatives to reduce, recycle and eliminate plastic usage, especially single-use plastic, right from the packaging of the rubber that enters the factory to the finished product.

One of CEAT’s most ambitious projects is to reduce the rolling resistance of tyres by replacing carbon black with silica. The hugely carbon-intensive industry is the largest end-user for carbon black and is estimated to consume close to 70% of its total global production. A key focus area for the company is to reduce the rolling resistance (RR) of tyres – the friction that takes place when a vehicle starts and the tyres begin to roll, causing the highest fuel consumption. Low RR tyres lead to lower fuel consumption. However, this poses a significant challenge for the team as any reduction in rolling resistance also reduces the life of the tyre. CEAT is significantly investing in R&D to provide workable solutions to this problem.

However, the primary concern faced by the taskforce was how to effectively get all employees and stakeholders involved in the company’s mission – and make it personal for each of them.

Jignesh Sharda, VP - Quality Assurance, CEAT, says the main concern for the task force was to help people to get involved at all levels, and make sustainability an integral part of their lives. “Involvement at the corporate level is easier to see and monitor. You can get the engineering team to reduce coal boiler utilisation and increase solar; the R&D team will use greener material in the tyre rather than carcinogenic material. But at the individual level, what should a person in HR, Finance, IT or even Supply Chain do so that they feel connected to this mission. That is a big part of our drive,” he says.

Jignesh believes inspiring people should be the first step in getting them involved in any such transformative journey. This meant devising creative ways to engage CEAT’s large workforce in this mission – creating a sustainability app, gamifying the initiatives, and organising plastic waste removal drives, among others.

The company is also exploring other avenues such as improving the life of a tyre to reduce stress on landfills and thereby contribute to lower depletion of resources, building intelligent tyres that are capable of issuing an alert when there’s a failure or low air pressure, and optimising transportation networks to reduce the carbon footprint.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Jignesh believes that having a strong business continuity plan is now more critical than ever before to achieving sustainability. “How do we ensure there is a contingency plan for everything we do – from supply of raw materials to manufacturing. If a plant sees several cases of infection and needs to shut down, does it mean customers must starve for the product? Or take, for example, our IT systems, what do we do if our organisation faces a ransomware attack?”

With its eyes on the goal, CEAT is focused firmly on its commitment by embedding sustainability principles into its core business. In 2017, CEAT became the first non-Japanese tyre company to win the prestigious Deming Prize for business transformation by implementing Total Quality Management (TQM). Today, the company is focused on exploring the various tenets of TQM and its impact on sustainability and how it can further benefit them and their mission at a micro-level.

It is safe to say; this is only the beginning of the manufacturing company’s journey towards a sustainable and greener future.