Aug 10, 2023
For most of us, tires are just rubber circles that keep our vehicles moving. But for Pirelli North America Inc., they represent a commitment to both mobility and sustainability. In a game-changing move, Pirelli has joined hands with The Ray, a renowned Atlanta-based non-profit dedicated to creating a net-zero highway system.
Nestled near Pirelli’s factory in Rome, Georgia, is an 18-mile section of Interstate 85. Dubbed the Ray C. Anderson Memorial Highway, this stretch serves as The Ray's testing grounds for a net-zero highway — a blend of safety, sustainability, and innovation.
But why Pirelli? Maureen Kline, the VP of public affairs and sustainability at Pirelli North America, paints the picture clearly. "Tires are the sole connection between the vehicle and the road. Collaborating with The Ray allows us to address challenges head-on, ideate solutions, and manifest genuine transformation."
This partnership goes beyond mere words. Pirelli will dive deep into the study of rubber-modified asphalt, exploring the potential reuse of tire materials, such as utilizing tire-derived aggregates for stormwater galleries. This aligns perfectly with Pirelli's broader vision of elevating the renewable and recycled components in tires and mitigating the environmental footprints of their products.
Pirelli isn't stopping there. As part of a broader initiative on tires and the circular economy, the tire giant is set to spearhead education, innovation, solution creation, and the propagation of best practices in the industry. A testament to their dedication towards achieving stringent sustainability milestones.
Allie Kelly, The Ray's Executive Director, echoes this enthusiasm. Recognizing Pirelli's leadership, especially with their Forest Stewardship Council-certified tire plant in Georgia — the first of its kind worldwide — Kelly is optimistic. "This alliance pushes us closer to realizing our net-zero transportation dreams."
And what does net-zero mean for The Ray? It's an ambitious vision of Zero Deaths, Zero Waste, Zero Carbon, and Zero Impact. Their current projects exemplify this, ranging from the establishment of solar arrays on highway rights-of-way, to the deployment of drones for first responders, and even setting up pollinator gardens for endangered species.
Behind The Ray's visionary endeavors stands the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. Founded in memory of Interface Inc.'s late founder, Ray C. Anderson, the foundation has generously funneled nearly $5 million into The Ray’s mission. Anderson's family established the foundation posthumously in 2011, intending to perpetuate his sustainability ideals.
In conclusion, Pirelli's alliance with The Ray exemplifies the perfect blend of business acumen and environmental stewardship. As the tire industry continues to evolve, partnerships like these set the gold standard, guiding us towards a more sustainable, safe, and innovative future on the roads.