Destination unknown: an epic quest for sustainability


In the world of commercial transport, it’s easy to think on a day-to-day level. These loads need to go here, we need another driver there, a tyre needs fixing, and so on. Life is busy and we live and work for today. 


But the increased pressure on truck fleets to be more sustainable has changed the perspective dramatically. We know we need to reduce CO2 emissions, and we know we need to care more for the environment. But the harsh reality is that we are heading towards a future where the rules are going to be very different. And if we’re not ready for it, we’re going to have problems.

There are at least three ways that life is going to be tougher for truck fleets that fail to make the transition to a low-carbon company:

  • Finance - there are likely to be monetary penalties for fleets that do not meet certain standards.  

  • Legality - you may not be allowed to operate as you currently do at all.

  • Reputation - customers will be subject to the same new conditions, and will only be able to hire compliant transport partners. Equally, driver recruitment will be problematic.

The French example

What does this future look like? In France, for example, we have an idea because we know that transport companies are going to need a CEE (Certificat d’Economie d’Energie). In order to earn a CEE, you must do certain things: you have to retread, you have to regroove. You must have TPMS on all tyres, you must have regular balancing checks. In addition there are certain labels of tyre you must use. 


Once you have your CEE, you are in a position to sell the carbon that you save, for example to oil companies who are preparing for a world where they will have to pay to compensate for the carbon-hungry business they are engaged in. On the other hand, if you are not fully compliant, you will also have fines to pay.


Although the rules may change between now and then, the CEE is currently seen as a future license to operate, so it is a key concern for French fleets – and fleets elsewhere in Europe are reacting in a similar way in preparation for future national and EU legislation.

Goodyear truck driving through a green landscape
Certification d'economies d'energie

Who’s going to help you?

The role of suppliers – whether truck manufacturers or other key suppliers like Goodyear – has traditionally been to help deal with the ‘everyday’ concerns. But that needs to change too. 


Every time we at Goodyear go to see a large fleet customer in France, the conversation is about where they are in terms of qualifying for their CEE. We commit to helping them get their tyres in line with the CEE, which of course is not just about fuel economy, but also end-of-life management and other factors. 


This even extends to aspects of social responsibility. In one recent example, a customer explained that partners like Goodyear would need to provide proof of social actions we were undertaking to benefit the customer’s local region. It is part of Goodyear’s “Better Future” plan to invest in such projects, so we were able to provide an example and show that we were a partner with the right credentials. There is every indication that such CSR credentials will be mandatory in the future.


One of the other effects of this new perspective, is to encourage truck fleets to consider alternative methods of payment. Some organisations are signing deals with Goodyear on a price-per-kilometre basis. We do not enter into a contract to supply a certain amount of goods; instead, we commit to making sure that everything tyre-related is in line with the new world that they will need to operate in. More and more they are challenging us on the services and how we are going to provide the services they need to be compliant. The last three major contracts that Goodyear signed were on this basis. 

Ready to set off?

While French transport fleets have at least have been given the CEE to aim for, our precise destination is largely unknown. It is terra incognita: we don’t know what the rules will be and we don’t know exactly where it is. However, our conscience (and the conscience of end consumers) is pushing us in that direction. We have to go there and the only thing we can control is whether we set off now or later. 


Everyone’s heading for the same new world. But are you going to get there first?

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