PR News recognized Firestone Complete Auto Care and Firestone Racing with a Corporate Social Responsibility Award honourable mention for a program aimed at reducing the amount of lead in the environment. The 2008 “Get The Lead Out” program was a joint initiative of Firestone Complete Auto Care and Firestone Racing, both members of the Bridgestone Americas family.
“We’re thrilled PR News chose to recognize our commitment to protecting the environment,” said Christine Karbowiak, Bridgestone Americas’ vice president of community and corporate relations. “Our work to reduce the amount of lead in the environment is just one example of Bridgestone Americas’ ongoing dedication to improving the communities we call home.”
In late 2007, Bridgestone Retail Operations, LLC, which operates more than 2,000 automotive service store locations, including Firestone Complete Auto Care, Tires Plus, ExpertTire and Wheel Works, became the first major automotive service provider to announce the move away from the use of lead wheel weights.
Wheel weights, traditionally made of lead, are small clips applied onto the wheels of vehicles when tires are installed to help the wheels balance properly and run smoothly. The weights can fall off and may get thrown onto the edges of roadways, possibly contaminating soil or water if they are made of lead or another environmentally harmful material.
In June 2008, Firestone Racing switched to using the 3M Wheel Weight system, a non-lead product that uses an adhesive to stick to wheels. Firestone Racing is the sole supplier of tires to both the IndyCar Series and the Firestone Indy Lights series.
Firestone Complete Auto Care and Firestone Racing’s lead reduction efforts gained the attention and support of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which approached the companies about taking a leading role in the EPA’s new environmental coalition, the National Lead Free Wheel Weight Initiative. The initiative generated nationwide coverage from outlets including The New York Times, USA Today, The Detroit Free Press, Bloomberg and the Associated Press.
As a result of Firestone’s efforts this resulted in more than 319,000 pounds of lead from wheel weights being recycled in 2008.