As future-forward companies envision ways to improve their environmental standings, many of them set long-term goals for achieving sustainable outcomes — some in accordance with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and others central to organizational and environmental health.
Without dedicated resources, budgets, and personnel, however, these goals can quickly be cast to the side. To work toward the sustainability goals it has outlined, The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, one of the largest global manufacturers of tires, put together a team dedicated to advancing sustainability inside the organization for internal and external benefit.
Ellis Jones, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer for Goodyear, oversees the Global Sustainability Team. Jones shared how his team works and how Goodyear measures progress, and highlighted the company’s large-scale environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices in the coming years.
Team Breakdown and Mission
Nine people comprise the Global Sustainability Team. Jones works with the Global Sustainability Director and seven sustainability specialists — experts in the environmental field who assess environmental impacts, social impacts, and life cycles. The team exists inside the Global Operations and Technology organization, a larger part of the company that helps Jones’ team integrate with other teams, including marketing, engineering, IT, legal, and communications, among others.
“Our Global Sustainability Team… is not alone in carrying out the company’s sustainability goals. This is truly a team effort,” Jones said. His team’s mission relies on metrics and defined goals to create value.
“Our Global Sustainability team… is not alone in carrying out the company’s sustainability goals. This is truly a team effort.”
“Using our strategy roadmap and materiality assessment, the Goodyear Global Sustainability Team works with colleagues throughout the company to inform, develop, and communicate strategies to advance sustainable outcomes,” he said.
Beyond the team itself, Goodyear uses a governance structure to more effectively ensure progress gets made throughout the organization. Goodyear has four separate committees and groups that work on ESG goals and help track metrics: the Board Committee on Corporate Responsibility and Compliance, the Better Future Steering Committee, the Better Future Working Group, and the Better Future Associate Council. Each of these committees has specific responsibilities — including metrics, goal setting, analysis, and collaboration. Jones oversees the Better Future Steering Committee.
Metrics and Measurement
Metrics and measurement can make or break any company’s goals, whether related to sustainability or not. Having a strong way to capture what has been accomplished, how quickly progress moves, and what still needs to be completed can be critical. Goodyear has established several metrics points to help guide sustainability progress.
Goodyear uses a materiality assessment annually to identify what the high-priority topics need to be and to analyze risks and opportunities for emerging sustainability inside the organization. The results of the assessment help to develop priorities.
“Following [our materiality] assessments, we align internally on ownership of all high-priority topics, verify our commitments, and establish key performance indicators for these identified topics,” said Jones.
The Better Future Working Group also plays an important role in sustainability metrics at Goodyear. As part of this group, each of Goodyear’s product managers share responsibility of setting goals and defining key performance indicators, strategies, and metrics for their respective high-priority project. Those leaders are tracked on the progress they make toward the goals and metrics they set.
“Each Working Group member maintains a sustainability scorecard, updated on a quarterly basis, to help ensure we are effectively managing our high-priority topics,” Jones said.
Internal and External Collaboration
Without buy-in from across an organization, important projects sometimes lose steam and remain incomplete. For Goodyear, collaboration has been critical — both internally and externally — as the Global Sustainability Team pushes for success.
Internally, the Global Sustainability Team works with other departments on its ESG goal advancement.
“Corporate responsibility is integrated into all levels of the company. Our Global Sustainability Team partners with key functional areas and helps inform business strategies to promote sustainable outcomes,” Jones said.
Corporate responsibility is integrated into all levels of the company. Our Global Sustainability Team partners with key functional areas and helps inform business strategies to promote sustainable outcomes.
The team also works with external stakeholders to communicate and foster its objectives via collaboration with other organizations.
“We demonstrate our commitment to sustainable development by collaborating with a variety of organizations to help advance the work of various tire-related sustainability topics,” Jones said.
Sustainability Targets and Progress
Goodyear has a set of goals to push toward stronger sustainability with completion dates between 2022 and 2050. The company has begun making tangible progress on one of their major goals — to create a tire made entirely from sustainable materials by 2030. That goal, announced in 2020, has already resulted in a more sustainable tire.
“In January 2022, we shared our progress toward this goal when we announced the release of a demonstration tire with 70% sustainable-material content, including industry-leading innovations,” Jones said. “The 70% sustainable-material tire includes 13 featured ingredients across nine different tire components, including carbon black, soybean oil, rice husk ash, silica, and polyester recycled from plastic bottles.”
In addition to the new tire model, Goodyear has plans to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Jones also shared the following goals for sustainability at the company:
- “By 2040, we plan to transform our manufacturing operations and processes to all renewable energy to significantly reduce our carbon footprint. We have also announced a multiple-phase plan to procure 100 percent renewable energy in our facilities across Europe, Middle East, and Africa by the end of 2022.
- The company is committed to using its state-of-the-art technology in rubber compounding, tire construction, and manufacturing to help reduce emissions through lower rolling resistance and reduced tire weight. Our goal, using a 2005 baseline, is to reduce rolling resistance in our consumer tire portfolio by 40 percent by 2025 and have a 9 percent reduction in tire weight in our consumer tire portfolio by 2025.
- Goodyear intends to fully replace petroleum-derived oils by 2040.
- We have committed to eliminate all serious injuries in our footprint by 2023.”
Goodyear publicly reports its progress on these goals in its annual corporate responsibility report.