We Need to Understand Better How We Can Manage End of Life of Tyres

What are the main pillars of RPG’s business responsibility strategy?

The RPG Foundation, acts as the CSR implementing organization for all RPG group companies. Its vision is to drive “holistic empowerment” of the community, and the corporate citizenship strategy functions at three levels – at the Group level, at the Industry level and at the micro-community level.

Our flagship program at the Group level is our Eye Care program called ‘Netranjali’. The purpose of Netranjali is to reduce avoidable blindness. It is estimated that about close to 30 – 35% of the world’s blind are from India. 80% of incidence of blindness is avoidable if care is provided in time. Our program, Netranjali’ addresses this need by ensuring that people have access to quality eye care in time.

We, along with our NGO partners, reach out to the most vulnerable to spread awareness about eye care, screen their eyes, provide them with free spectacles (for refractive errors) and refer them to our hospital partners for other interventions, if needed. Last year we screened over 200,000 people across all our locations and distributed over 80,000 spectacles.

A core constituency that we reached out to was truckers and commercial drivers, who are more in need to eye care. We reached out to over 60,000 truckers in 2016 – 2017. In a telling study, we found that over 70% of truckers (from the study) had eye complaints like itchy eyes, dry eyes, hazy vision, redness, etc., but most of them had never seen a doctor for the same. This confirms our belief that Netranjali is addressing a critical need and can save many from serious eye ailments and possible blindness.

The second program that we operate at the Group level is called ‘Pehlay Akshar’. In this program, we work in partnership with 45 government and municipal schools and teach a Functional English curriculum to help children learn how to communicate and use English in everyday life. On the request of the Government, we also teach an additional hour (per week) of their English curriculum using our engaging methodology.

The Pehlay Akshar curriculum is currently taught to all children in the school from Grade 4 to Grade 9, where our facilitator, takes a 1 ½ hour class every week. The program has been received very well by the children, their parents and the teachers. This led us to developing a unique teacher development module where we trained 300 teachers last year and provided them with weekly coaching support to implement our Pehlay Akshar methodology of engaging children in all their classrooms. This year we plan to reach out to 4 – 5 locations and train over a 1000 teachers.

What are the CSR focus areas for CEAT?

Our work is about genuinely doing good, but also doing good is always good business since it has a positive rub off on the brand. We don’t advertise our CSR initiatives because for us building a rapport with the communities around our plants, fleet owners, truck drivers and others is what counts. For CEAT, we have developed two specific programs that align with our long term vision.

The first program at this level is ‘Swayam’ – our pioneering program to support women by providing them a livelihood opportunity in the area of commercial driving – a very male dominated profession.

This was propelled by the many incidents of women molestation and rape by drivers. We realised that this could help at 2 levels – helping women passengers and also in giving employment to women as drivers. We mobilize needy women from slums and communities who have the courage and desire to break into this profession and support them to learn driving, also provide them a host of other soft skills, including training in English and self-defence.

We also proactively help these women find jobs, where they can practice their skills and go on to be commercial drivers. This has been such an amazing boost for many women, who never imagined that they could possibly earn their livelihood in this manner matching their husbands.

Last year, we supported the training of over 1350 women through our partners and were successfully able to place over 950 women is a range of jobs in the commercial driving sector. We get incredible feedback from industry on this project with potential employers asking for more well trained women drivers. Women drivers trained from us are working for Uber, Ola and are even employed by Mahindra Logistics as forklift operators.

We also focus on the micro community around our plants and offices. Based on a need analysis by the TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences) National CSR Hub, we reach out to communities around the CEAT plants at Bhandup, Nashik, Nagpur, Halol and Ambernath where we implement a range of community development initiatives. The needs are quite different across different locations and we try to customise our efforts. These are largely in the areas of water, health, sanitation, youth education, skilling,

What is CEAT doing to build sustainability in its operations?

Manufacturing a tyre is a low pollution process contributing barely 10-15% to the total carbon footprint. Here, all our plants follow the highest quality processes which are high on safety, low on emissions and low environmental impact.

When we examined our carbon footprint we realised that 70% of the impact is in the product which is a combination of rolling resistance and use of unsustainable materials. A key focus for us is to focus on reducing the rolling resistance (RR) of tyres – the friction that happens when the car starts and the tyres start moving. This causes the highest fuel utilisation in the car. Low RR tyres lead to lesser fuel utilisation. We have a strategic long term project going on in this area to reduce RR on an ongoing basis. We have also come out with a tyre called Fuel Smarrt which offers 7% lower fuel consumption since it has a lower RR. It helps the customer as well as the environment.

Tyres are made with environmentally unsustainable raw material such as carbon black and other oil based products. One of our core focus areas is the continuous reduction of carbon black usage and replacing it with Silica. This is a technical and long term process that we are determined to continue doing in our efforts to make tyres more green.

Tyres are also very difficult to recycle and many of them reach landfills. We understand that recycling of tyres is happening and we are trying to understand how it can be done. There are specific companies involved in rubber recycling and recycled rubber from tyres is being used to make mats, furniture and so on. For tyre manufacturing, the rubber that is needed has to be very high quality and there is very limited amount of recycled rubber we can use in our plants. As citizens we need to understand better how we can manage end of life of tyres. How can we move them from landfills into productive use? It’s a key question, whose answer we are still searching for. I have seen some recycling efforts, but I really want to understand how tyres recycling can be scaled and how the reverse logistics which involves sourcing tyres can be managed.

Above all, CEAT is committed to making a better world for all of us, customers, partners and communities.

 

In conversation with Mr. Anant Goenka, Managing Director, CEAT Limited. (Original Post)

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