Sustainability and the cycling industry: Continental

Cycling is often at the centre of sustainable travel initiatives, with the effects of rising carbon emissions and climate change becoming increasingly worrying every day. But how green is the trade itself? BikeBiz speaks to six brands to find out what they’re doing to be more environmentally friendly. Today, we hear from Continental

At Continental, our goal is to be the most progressive tyre company in terms of environmental and social responsibility.  We relentlessly drive forward innovative technologies and sustainable solutions along our entire value chain and are fully convinced that sustainable and responsible business increases our ability to innovate and shape the future – adding value to the company and to society.

Sustainability is at the heart of Continental and anchored in our values. We have published an annual sustainability report since 2011. Furthermore, in April 2020, we created a new Sustainability Department to bundle all of our Sustainability Activities. We are consolidating our far-reaching activities and research projects and underscoring our commitment to further systematic expansion of sustainable business models and innovative products and services along the entire value chain.

In December 2020, Continental published its strategic programme for the Tyre Business Area, the ‘Vision 2030’ programme, which outlines all of the goals our company has going forward. The realisation of our ambitious sustainability goals will be key success factors and differentiators in the marketplace.

We want to ensure the social and environmental impact of our supply chain is minimised. It is our aim to create a closed resource cycle and increase our use of renewable and degradable resources so that 95% of the waste Continental generates is recyclable by 2030.

We strive for carbon neutrality as a company. In order to achieve this, we have set ourselves ambitious goals. By the end of 2020, we ensured our energy system was carbon neutral, and by 2040 we aim to have carbon-neutral production ahead of achieving a completely carbon-neutral value chain by 2050.

On our website, you can read, in detail, all about the framework which we have in place for
achieving our sustainability goals: https://www.continental.com/en/sustainability/sustainability-framework/continentals-sustainability-ambition/.

Also, we are extending our commitment to sustainability in the natural rubber supply chain, having agreed on a significant expansion of our successful project to ensure full traceability of the natural rubber supply chain in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan in Borneo. The project is run together with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

At Continental, we follow a comprehensive understanding of sustainability, ranging from people, to environment, to resources. Sustainability is firmly integrated in our corporate strategy and is a key driver of innovation.

We have defined our new framework in 2020, following a systematic process that included market analyses, customer discussions and a stakeholder survey. You can read more about this here: https://www.continental.com/en/sustainability/sustainability-framework/continentals-sustainability-ambition/.

As outlined, technological innovation and sustainability for us go hand in hand. We do not see this as an either/or decision – something that we have proven with the high performance of our products. For example, we had developed a new, innovative tyre – the Urban Taraxagum. Highly appreciated, this is the world’s first serial bicycle tyre made from dandelion rubber sourced in our Anklam Lab in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Germany.

Continental is convinced that dandelion rubber is a potential game-changer in the rubber industry as it reduces CO2 by shortening long transportation routes, e.g. as to our tyre plant Korbach in this example. This is why the Taraxagum project makes a long-term pillar in our sustainability strategy.

Tyres made with natural rubber from dandelion roots show equivalent performance compared to those made with natural rubber from rubber trees. We have received an award at the German Sustainability Awards 2021 for this innovation, and you can find out more about
Taraxagum at: www.taraxagum.com.

And only recently we have announced our plans to use material obtained from recycled PET bottles in tyre production as early as 2022. In this innovative recycling process, the tyre fibres are spun from recycled PET, without the need to break the material down into its components beforehand. More information on this innovation can be read here: https://www.continental.com/en/press/press-releases/20210803-rpet-otiz/.

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