Environmental impact of tyre plants
We aim at managing the environmental impacts of our products over their entire life cycle and addressing the safety and quality aspects of our operations in a comprehensive and systematic manner.
The environmental impacts caused by the production of vehicle tyres include odour, solvent and dust emissions, noise, waste, and consumption of energy. The most significant of these impacts are waste and, locally, odour. Solvent emissions (i.e. VOC emissions) are also a significant impact of the Nokia plant. In line with our quality and sustainability principles, we are aiming for zero errors in all EHSQ aspects.
We document the environmental impacts of our tyre plants in annual records and report them to the authorities as required in each country of operation. The Nokia plant has a separate register for the environment-related feedback received from the residents of the neighbourhood and the plant personnel. In connection with logging the feedback, the environmental expert specifies the corrective measures. A feedback form remains open until the necessary measures have been taken and the environmental expert closes and signs the form. Our goal is to handle environmental matters so effectively that people have no cause for complaints or comments. In 2015, we did not receive any environmental complaints. In the Vsevolozhsk plant, there is no need for registering neighbourhood feedback because the plant is situated far away from residence. Still, we use the same standards there as we do in Nokia.
Environmental impact of tyre plant in Nokia, Finland
Environmental impact of tyre plant in Vsevolozhsk, Russia
Volatile Organic Compounds, VOC
Solvents or volatile organic compounds (VOC) constitute the most significant emissions into the air. Solvents are used in the production of heavy tyres and treads for improving adhesion. Since 2012, we have not used any solvents in the production of passenger car tyres. Our company collects the VOCs from tread production and conveys them to a catalytic incineration plant. In 2015, our solvent emissions amounted to 69.3 tonnes, equalling 1.4 kg/tonne of products.
Our company aims at compliance with the total emission limit according to the EU’s VOC directive, which is 25% of the solvents used. However, in 2015 our emissions amounted to 51%, which exceeded the emission limit according to the directive.
In late 2014, we installed an incineration plant in our Nokia factory for treating VOC emissions. The purpose of the plant is to reduce VOC emissions from the manufacture of heavy tyres and retreading materials and further improve the air quality of our production. Due to delays in commissioning the new plant, our VOC emissions exceeded their limits. The new technology enables Nokian Tyres to fulfil the legal obligations concerning VOC emissions in the future.
At our factory in Vsevolozhsk, an independent company annually measures the nitrogen and sulphur emissions from energy production. The nitrogen and sulphur emissions are below the set emission limits.
Carbon dioxide, CO₂
In 2011, we developed a CO₂ calculator for tyre production. Our calculations were carried out as a greenhouse gas assessment with the “cradle-to-gate” approach in line with the PAS 2050 standard. Now, we use this calculator annually for assessing the emissions. Further development of the calculations is still needed: for example, not all other indirect CO₂ emissions (so-called scope 3 emissions) are currently evaluated. Vsevolozhsk factory has its own energy production unit. Due to this the CO2 scope 1 emissions are so much higher than in Nokia.
Renewable energy sources account for approximately 40% of electricity consumption at our factory in Nokia. Our Vsevolozhsk factory uses its own power station for generating most of the energy it needs. Therefore, its direct greenhouse gas emissions exceed those of the factory in Nokia. In 2016, we aim to reduce steam consumption by 5% during low production periods in Nokia. The Vsevolozhsk factory only uses natural gas for energy production.
Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)
During the lifecycle of a tyre, its use and decommissioning create the most greenhouse gas emissions (approximately 90%). Production accounts for approximately 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2013, we prepared a plan for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and revised it in 2014 and 2015. A significant factor in cutting our GHG emissions will be the new power plant that uses wood chips as fuel. The plant will be commissioned in 2016. It will eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions related to the industrial water and steam generation in Nokia. Our aim is to reduce these emissions by 20% by 2020.
According to surveys commissioned by Nokian Tyres, odour emissions are momentary. The mastication process for softening natural rubber causes discharges of compounds that are generated during the precipitation and dehydration phases of rubber milk, which results in an unpleasant odour in the neighbourhood. We use droplet separators for reducing the odours from mastication. We have also achieved a reduction of odours due to a decreased amount of separate mastication processes. Some odours are generated during the tyre curing process. The quantity of the curing fumes released during the process is directly proportional to the quantity of cured rubber. The concentrations of individual substances in the fumes are extremely small. Currently, there is no cost-efficient system available for collecting and processing the curing fumes.
In 2015, we carried out a dispersion modelling of odour emissions in Nokia. The results indicate that the odour is the strongest at the eastern end of the factory. In the neighbourhood eastward from the factory, the percentage of odour hours in a year is 5–10%. However, the Vsevolozhsk factory received one observation about odour emissions from the authorities. With the aim to reduce odour emissions, we started a project in 2015 for conceptualising new odour control equipment for the early stages of production. We plan to commission the first odour control unit in Nokia in the summer 2016, which could provide odour elimination for two mixing lines. In the future, the plan is to expand the technology to other lines in Nokia and Vsevolozhsk based on the experience gained with the unit.
Particle emissions (dust)
Particle emissions are caused by the processing of powdery chemicals in the compound mixing department. We have replaced dust filters and selected state-of-the-art dust reduction technology for the expansion of the mixing plant. Our mixing equipment is fitted with efficient ventilation and dust collection devices. The best separating rates achieved by the water cleaners exceed 99%. We monitor particle emissions by means of particle concentration and differential pressure gauges. In addition, external specialists carry out regular concentration measurements. The measured particle concentrations have complied with the permit limits at both production plants. The dust that passes through the filter system mainly causes an aesthetic inconvenience and poses no harm to the environment or human health.
The environmental permit of the Nokia plant requires that the noise level in the yard areas of residential buildings remain below the equivalent continuous level of 55 decibels (LAeq) in the daytime. At night, the limit is 50 dB (LAeq). The figures refer to LAeq decibels, or in other words the mean noise level as detected by the human ear. According to the newest noise survey carried out by an external specialist in 2013, the 50 dB noise zone barely extends to the old residential area on the southeastern, eastern, and northeastern sides of the plant. We did not receive any noise complaints in 2015. The permit limit for the Vsevolozhsk plant is 50 dB at a distance of 300 metres from the plant. In the latest measurements, the actual noise level was 45 dB.
Our objective is achieving zero tolerance with all environmental emissions. In 2015, approximately 200–400 litres of insulation liquid leaked into the Nokianvirta river. The leak was caused by exceptional circumstances, when the tanks containing the insulation liquid were emptied for introducing a new chemical. The insulation liquid was pumped into a separating pool, which filled up, and the overflowing liquid entered the river via the process water channel. The insulation liquid poses no threat to the environment and mainly caused aesthetic harm. Rescue services and Nokian Tyres personnel recovered the chemical from the river. The authorities approved the clean-up. The total cost of the emission was approximately €20,000. The largest individual expense was a claim for damages by a power plant located downstream the river. We immediately put corrective measures in place in order to prevent similar leaks in the future. The Nokia factory received no complaints concerning environmental emissions.
Waste is generated both in the production and support functions. We weigh all production waste and log the volumes in a monthly record. Other waste is logged in yearly reports. The waste volumes are weighed by waste management companies. We keep department-specific records on production waste. The generated waste is sorted at the plant according to separate waste management instructions. Most of the production waste is taken directly to specific locations for utilisation without any intermediate storage. Hazardous waste is stored separately at collection points in containers marked with warning labels. The waste generated can roughly be divided into three categories: landfill waste or non-recycled waste, utilised waste, and hazardous waste.
Waste that is suitable for utilisation or recycling is sorted at the point of origin and collected in separate, labelled containers. The recycling volumes are growing rapidly in our Russian plant: In 2011, the recycling rate was 64% of the generated waste, while in 2015 it was as high as 84%. At our Nokia factory, the waste utilisation rate is 99%.
Scrap tyres – i.e. tyres that do not meet our high standards of quality – are routed for utilisation directly from production. This is handled in Finland by Finnish Tyre Recycling Ltd. and in Russia by three partner companies.
Non-vulcanised scrap rubber is generated in the production stages preceding vulcanisation or curing. The non-vulcanised scrap rubber can be divided into two categories: compound mixing waste (scrap rubber) and other non-vulcanised rubber waste. Reuse applications for rubber include products with non-critical material requirements, such as impact padding and conveyor belts.
The sources of plastic waste include packaging materials and the plastic used for separating materials in the production departments.
We send wooden packages and pallets for reuse, energy generation, or composting. The main source of scrap wood is the raw material storage as much of the raw materials arrive at the plant on wooden pallets or in wooden boxes.
We mainly obtain scrap iron and steel from discarded machinery and equipment. We also recycle waste paper and cardboard and deliver biodegradable waste for composting.
Mixed waste that cannot be utilised or recycled is taken to a landfill. A total of 27.4 tonnes of landfill waste were generated in our facilities in Nokia and 1,531 tonnes in Vsevolozhsk. We aim to reduce the amount of landfill waste even further by sending the waste we generate to recycling and reuse.
We deliver all hazardous waste to an authorised processing plant. In 2015, a total of 200 tonnes of hazardous waste were generated in our facilities in Nokia and 695 tonnes in Vsevolozhsk. Roughly half of this is blade seal oil from compound mixing machines (so-called box grease). The consumption of these oils is directly dependent on the manufactured rubber volumes. Other types of waste classified as hazardous include oily waste, waste chemicals, waste oil, fluorescent tubes, and batteries. Approximately 90% of the hazardous waste generated in our Nokia facilities is reused for energy.
Large amounts of water are used for cooling in the tyre manufacturing processes. Our Vsevolozhsk plant uses municipal water for cooling. The Nokia plant takes cooling water from the nearby Nokianvirta river and discharges it back into the river after use. The cooling water has no contact with chemicals at any stage and, therefore, is not contaminated when it returns to the river. The consumption of cooling water depends on the temperature of the river water, which makes it impossible to set a numeric target for it. Wastewater from the plant is conveyed to the municipal treatment plant of the town of Nokia. The amount of cooling water discharged into the river and wastewater discharged into the municipal sewerage are shown in the adjacent graph.
We take samples annually from the cooling water that is discharged into Nokianvirta as well as the wastewater that is conveyed to the municipal treatment plant in order to verify the water quality. The water pumped into the town of Nokia’s sewerage system is fairly typical sanitation water. The water from all of the cooling water drains has been practically clean. No analysable amounts of oil or solvents or any other indications of effluent load were detected in 2015. Our Vsevolozhsk plant also regularly analyses the wastewater it discharges into the sewerage.
We have several ongoing waste reduction projects in various production departments. In recent years, our focus has shifted from one-off waste projects to continuous improvement efforts. We weigh production waste (non-vulcanised scrap rubber) separately for each category and enter the data into a database by using a bar code scanner. We use this database for monitoring the generated daily amount of waste per each category, which enables taking immediate measures if we detect any deviations. By utilising online reporting, the total amount of waste and the six most significant sources of waste are now reported each morning during the production staff meeting, instead of the previous monthly reports. The amount of waste is one of the key indicators monitored daily by the management, and appropriate improvement measures are expected of production supervisors for lowering the volume of waste.
Environmental costs comprise the expenses and investments that are related to air, soil and water protection, waste management, management of environmental issues and noise reduction. The graph below presents our environmental administration costs, emissions processing costs and the paid monetary compensation in relation to environmental permits and legislation.
In 2015, our factory in Vsevolozhsk was issued a fine of €13,000 for exceeding the emission limit in waste water.
Key measures in 2015
A summary of the most significant targets of Nokian Tyres’ 2015 environmental programme and their implementation and targets for the year 2016 are presented in the adjacent table.
|Object||Target in 2015||Status in 2015||Explanation/outcome|
|Statutory requirements||Implementation according to the Nokian Tyres’ environmental permits and legislation||Completed according to plan|
|VOC emissions||Compliance with VOC-directive, ensuring usability of new incinerator||Not in compliance with VOC-directive, incinerator in use in late February||VOC emissions were 51% of the used solvent volume (the limit is <25%) mainly due to by-pass in January and February|
|Energy||Analysing energy saving potentials and the related action plan||Analysis and action plans done by departmental energy efficiency groups||We establish energy efficiency groups to every department, updating and implementation of action plans are on the responsibility of those groups|
|Environmental risks||Updating the environmental risk assessment (Nokia)||Implemented||No relevant changes|
|Wastewater||Reducing pollutants in wastewater (Vsevolozhsk)||Assesment done||Implementation of assessment results in 2016|
|Chemical safety||Updating MSDS database according CLP-legislation.||Implemented|
|Safety audits and monitoring the use of chemicals||2 audits/department||Implemented|
|Materials development||Ensuring that no Substances of Very High Concern as referred to in REACH are contained in the products||Implemented||No Substances of very High Concern are used in production|
|Increasing environmental awareness among the personnel||According to the plants’ environmental programmes||Implemented|
Key measures in 2016
|Object||Target in 2016|
|Statutory requirements||Implementation according to the Nokian Tyres’ environmental permits and legislation|
|VOC emissions||Compliance with VOC-directive, ensuring usability of new incinerator|
|Energy||Implementing energy saving actions|
|Wastewater||Reducing pollutants in wastewater (Vsevolozhsk)|
|Chemical safety||Chemical safety report according to Seveso III directive for Nokia factory|
|Environmental audits and monitoring the use of chemicals||2 audits/department|
|Materials development||Ensuring that no Substances of Very High Concern as referred to in REACH are contained in the products|
|Increasing environmental awareness among the personnel||According to the plants’ environmental programmes|
|Greenhouse gas emissions||Determining scope 3 emissions|
Each Vianor outlet complies with the local laws and regulations. Waste is sorted and delivered for reuse whenever technologically and economically feasible. The most significant environmental impacts of Vianor outlets are waste and energy consumption. In relation with energy-efficiency audits in the group, we have decided to conduct a focused energy consumption assessment in three Vianor outlets in 2016. In addition, our sales companies and Vianor outlets pay attention to the efficiency of product deliveries.