Behind the Brand - Meet Maureen Kline, Pirelli’s North America Vice President, Public Affairs & Sustainability

May 25th, 2023

Based in Italy and with an enviable motorsports pedigree, Pirelli is globally known as a leader in performance and high quality for both on an off-road. Another way the brand is leading the charge globally? With their sustainability efforts and focus on their impact on the world around them.

We had the chance recently to sit down with Maureen Kline, Pirelli’s North America Vice President, Public Affairs & Sustainability, to find out more about Pirelli’s long history in the fight against climate change. Making impactful strides comes second nature to Pirelli, who is committed to carbon neutrality by 2030, and we were excited to discuss Pirelli’s current and future strategies with Maureen.

Can you give us a little background about your role at Pirelli?

Pirelli’s board, sustainability steering committee, and sustainability department in our headquarters in Milan set the sustainability strategy. In North America, we have two sustainability managers implementing that strategy locally, and our North American CEO is directly responsible for the region meeting its sustainability targets. Integrating sustainability fully throughout the company is an ongoing process; we have managers focused on sustainability in procurement, marketing, R&D, and so on.

Can you provide a general overview of Pirelli’s sustainability model?

The Pirelli Sustainability Model is inspired by the United Nations Global Compact, of which Pirelli has been an active member since 2004. The Pirelli sustainability plan with targets for 2022, 2025 and 2030 supports eleven of the UN’s seventeen 2030 sustainable development goals and is based on global scenarios for 2025-2030, including technological and digital innovation, an increasingly circular economy, the growth of the world population and smart cities, future mobility trends, the potential scarcity of natural resources, the fight against climate change and the growing need for cybersecurity to protect the entire value chain.

Grounded in the UN guidelines, the Pirelli sustainability strategy looks at new consumer needs and new forms of mobility with a sustainable approach throughout the entire product life cycle, from research into new materials to innovative processes, improving the environmental and safety performance of products, supporting circular economy and launching new products to promote of the safety of drivers. All this with a special focus on tires for electric vehicles. In the field of materials, Pirelli is constantly focusing on research and development of innovative materials for new product lines, increasingly derived from renewable sources and recycled materials, and less from fossil-based materials.

Two years ago, Pirelli became the first company to produce a range of FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) tires designed for the BMW X5 xDrive45e Plug-in-Hybrid. Tell us about these tires, and how the development process unfolded.

The FSC forest management certification confirms that plantations are managed in a way that preserves biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people and workers, while ensuring it sustains economic viability.

The FSC certification for the natural rubber used to make the new P ZERO tire for BMW’s X5 Plug-in-Hybrid procured from certified plantations is the latest step on the path that Pirelli has been on for many years towards the sustainable management of the natural rubber supply chain. This is achieved through a roadmap of activities based on the training and sharing of good practices in the countries of origin of the material, in line with the principles and values contained in the Pirelli Sustainable Natural Rubber Policy, which was issued in 2017. This document is the result of consultations with key stakeholders in the natural rubber value chain including international NGOs, Pirelli’s main natural rubber suppliers, growers and traders within the supply chain, automotive customers, and multilateral global organizations. Pirelli also is a founding member of the global platform for sustainable natural rubber (GPSNR).

Pirelli was recently recognized by the international non-profit CDP for the fifth consecutive year. Can you explain the significance, and the importance of the CDP’s efforts?

Yes, for the fifth consecutive year, Pirelli was confirmed a global leader in the fight against climate change obtaining a position in the Climate A list 2022 of CDP, formerly known as the Carbon Disclosure Project. CDP has become the main hub where companies report climate, water and forest impacts. Through its supply chain program Pirelli asks our suppliers to report as well, which allows us to gain a much better understanding of our indirect (“scope 3”) impacts.

We’d love to learn about Pirelli’s sustainability targets for the upcoming decade.

Pirelli is committed to carbon neutrality by 2030 and 100% renewable electricity by 2025, the most ambitious goals in the tire industry. Pirelli adheres to the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), with targets in line with maintaining global warming “within 1.5°C”, after reaching our previous Scope 1 and 2 goals four years ahead of schedule.

We also have targets on low rolling resistance: by 2025 more than 70% of our tires will be in the top EU category for rolling resistance and more than 90% of our tires will be in the top category for wet grip performance. By 2025 our tires will be made with more than 40% renewable materials and more than 6% recycled materials, without compromising performance.

Why do you feel Pirelli stands apart from competitors in terms of both sustainability and as an overall brand?

Pirelli is very focused on our impact on the world around us, with a view on the long-term horizon. We want to help solve the toughest challenges: circular economy, responsible sourcing with a focus on human rights in the supply chain, reduction of tire and roadwear particles, and decarbonization of both manufacturing and transportation. One in three electric vehicle tire homologations is Pirelli; we want to be at the forefront of the EV transition. Since luxury brands are producing electric vehicles, we have an advantage. Pirelli is already identified with racing, high performance, and luxury brands, now we will also be identified with the EV transition.

Can you provide drivers some tips for sustainability they may have not considered?

Something as simple as proper tire inflation can make a huge difference for fuel economy and EV range. Be a smart consumer; look for cars and tires that have made commitments and stuck to them. And learning about, and being advocates for, the circular economy could help us drive progress. Our drivers are our most important partners.