Manufacturing a tyre is a very water-consuming process and the current water crisis disturbing the southern state of Tamil Nadu has put an impact on many major tyre production companies such as Apollo Tyres, JK Tyre, and Michelin. As per the reports, though the water scarcity has not yet affected the production, the organisations have begun to make the production assemblies as water-efficient as possible. These companies have also declared Rs 4,000 investment for a new plant in Sriperumbudur. The tyre manufacturers are operating on processing rainwater, surface water and polluted water to store and reuse it in the manufacturing process. Moreover, they are chopping down the overall water usage in their industries. For example, JK Tyre has significantly decreased its water consumption by approx. fifty percent in the last three years. Also, the other major companies, namely CEAT, Michelin, and Apollo, are utilising rainwater harvesting and effluent strategy to reduce water consumption.
Treated sewage water is also additionally processed through RO system and is then used for cooling tower makeup. Few tyre manufacturers are creating their factories in such a way that they utilise 40 percent less water. COO of CEAT, Mr Arnab Banerjee has stated that they are going for 100 percent reuse to distribute the whole effluent and sewage back to usage and they are also utilising air-cooled equipment, not water-cooled chiller. In addition to that, they are collecting runoff water and have started waterless urinals as well. The organisations have also extended their water conservation ventures outside the factory premises. For Apollo Tyres, they have begun eco-restoration of various ponds in the neighbouring villages, which will benefit the firm in supplying the groundwater levels and approach water conservation issue.
The water scarcity is influencing tyre companies to innovate rapidly. JK, for instance, discovered that freshwater made up for boiler was an enormous water guzzler. The statement said “As an innovative step, traditional internal cure media has been changed, thereby eliminating water usage said the company in a statement. Result: 24% daily
reduction in water utilised for boiler make up. The company also found freshwater
consumption in cooling towers creates high water consumption. The sewage is another freshwater resource if treated properly.” The operated sewage water is further treated through a reverse osmosis system and used for cooling tower makeup. It has reduced the water consumption to 65 kiloliters of freshwater.
Apart from the rainwater gathering and effluent reuse, tyre factories are also growing their water-saving efforts beyond the plant premises. Satish Sharma, President, Apollo Tyres said: “Outside our facility, we have undertaken eco-restoration of multiple ponds in the nearby villages, facility, which is helping replenish the groundwater levels and address water conservation in general.” This effort is significant given that SIPCOT has in most cases, suspended supplies leaving tyre factories to fend for themselves.