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Hankook Tire signs MOU with Kumho Petrochemical to develop eco-friendly tires

2023. 05. 23

- Hankook secures priority supply of Eco Solution-polymerized Styrene-Butadiene Rubber (Eco-SSBR) to accelerate eco-friendly product development
- Acquiring technology for producing tires with recycled materials will help the company achieve its goal of using 55% sustainable materials by 2025
- The move contributes to Hankook’s ESG management activities spanning overall tire production, which include supporting natural rubber production and achieving the industry’s first ISCC PLUS certification

Seoul, Korea, May 23, 2023 – On May 22, Global leading tire company Hankook Tire & Technology (Hankook Tire) and global petrochemical company Kumho Petrochemical Co., Ltd. (KKPC) have signed a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) for the development of eco-friendly tires, utilizing Eco Solution-polymerized Styrene-Butadiene Rubber (Eco-SSBR). The MOU signing took place at the headquarters of KKPC, located in Jung-gu, Seoul, Korea.

Attendees of the signing included major stakeholders, President & CEO of Hankook Tire & Technology Sooil Lee and Kumho Petrochemical President & CEO Jong-Hoon Baek. To respond to the growing demand for sustainable raw materials and products, both companies will cooperate in developing eco-friendly tires using recycled materials. Hankook Tire will test and evaluate its tires to check for physical properties and performance quality to create eco-friendly tires under the agreement to using Eco-SSBR – which is produced through the application of KKPC’s Recycled Styrene Monomer (RSM).

Eco-SSBR is an eco-friendly material that applies RSM instead of basic, raw material styrene to SSBR, a high-performance synthetic rubber that improves wear resistance and fuel efficiency of tires. KKPC is considering investment in the material with the aim of commercialization in 2026. The MOU between the two companies means that Hankook Tire will be the first to be supplied with the material at a fair price once production has commenced.

Through the agreement, Hankook Tire has secured synthetic rubber certified by the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) PLUS – an international certification system for environmentally friendly materials – paving way for the future of eco-friendly technologies. This in turn will help accelerate the achievement of one of Hankook Tire’s ESG goals – using 55% sustainable raw materials by 2025 – and help consolidate its position as a leading industry ESG management practitioner.

Prior to the agreement, Hankook Tire had already been implementing ESG management activities aimed at improving sustainability throughout the process of tire production. In particular, as a founding member of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR) – a global sustainable natural rubber collaborative platform – Hankook Tire is working to improve the living conditions of small-scale farmers, who grow natural rubber, while simultaneously helping them with productivity and quality.

On September 2021, Hankook formulated and published a natural rubber policy in line with the GPSNR’s guidelines. As part of this policy, it joined PROJECT TREE, a sustainable natural rubber production project based on blockchain technology, in December of the same year.

On April 2022, in recognition of its efforts, Hankook obtained the first ISCC PLUS certification in the tire industry. The ISCC PLUS certification is a prominent eco-friendly certification, requiring verification of the entire production process from the purchasing of raw materials to the selling of products. Certified eco-friendly raw materials are used in producing Hankook Tire’s such as Kinergy 4S 2 and Kinergy 4S 2 X all-season tires.

Beyond these sustainability-focused activities, Hankook Tire’s community engagement and ethical management ESG management efforts have been recognized by the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI World) – world’s most prestigious sustainability index – for seven consecutive years.