Tucker, Georgia-based Lehigh Technologies has been selected as the winner of the Young Global Leaders Award for Circular Economy SME (small-to-medium-sized enterprises), held in conjunction with the 2019 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The award was presented as part of The Circulars 2019, the fifth edition of those awards.
Lehigh says it was recognized by organizers “for its continued work upcycling end-of-life tire materials into micronized rubber powder (MRP), a sustainable, lower-cost, high performing and customizable feedstock for industrial and consumer markets.”
MRP is used as an additive in a range of consumer and industrial products, including tires. Lehigh says its business model involves closing the loop on tire production, ensuring sustainability and stability in manufacturing costs for the tire industry and reducing dependence on oil-based chemicals.
“This recognition properly underscores Lehigh’s dedication to the growing role of the circular economy across many sectors across the world,” states Lehigh CEO Paul Crehan. “Our unique value proposition has enabled our rapid growth over the past decade, and we’re happy to see that [award] organizers are acknowledging the trend.”
Following a recent plant expansion in Navarra, Spain, Lehigh says it plans to expand into new international markets and improve the circular economy for tires and other applications. Lehigh’s France-based parent company Michelin Group also intends to adopt MRP globally for multiple applications, according to Lehigh.
Tires made with Lehigh’s MRP have consumed more than 20 million passenger car tire equivalents (PTEs) in the previous 10 years. To date, Lehigh’s products have been used to manufacture more than 500 million tires using what Lehigh calls a circular model.
MRP also can be used as a replacement for fossil-fuel based raw materials in other applications, including construction, asphalt and plastics, says the firm.
“Consumers, employees, stakeholders and policymakers alike expect companies to lead with purpose around sustainability and are holding them accountable,” remarks Peter Lacy, a senior managing director with consulting firm Accenture Strategy, a sponsor of the awards. “Inaction or idleness can severely harm competitiveness, with a drop in stakeholder trust costing businesses globally $180 billion in potential revenues. Moving to a circular economy delivers the disruptive change needed to secure a sustainable future, while enabling businesses to unlock innovation and growth.”
The Circulars is an initiative of the World Economic Forum and the Forum of Young Global Leaders in collaboration with Accenture Strategy and has been designed to recognize individuals and organizations dedicated to pushing the circular economy forward. Its SME category specifically recognizes small-to-medium-sized enterprises.