BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 25 May '17

In a first for the car industry, GM will collaborate with suppliers to improve global rubber supply

General Motors (GM) is making a car industry-first commitment to sourcing sustainable natural rubber for all of its tyres in a bid to achieve net-zero deforestation and uphold human and labour rights.

Benefits of sustainable rubber

The car manufacturer said that transforming the global rubber and tyre supply chain to create lasting, environmentally sound sustainable rubber production requires a collaborative approach, and that sourcing tyres produced using sustainable natural rubber will bring a number of community, business and environmental benefits.

It will help preserve and restore primary forests and areas of high conservation value and high carbon stock that are critical to climate change mitigation and the protection of wildlife.

Yield and quality will be improved for natural rubber farmers, further supporting the small businesses that contribute 85% of this material.

Transforming the market

In response to the announcement, Kerry Cesare, WWF’s vice president, forests, stated that the mass deforestation, land grabs and human rights violations witnessed across Southeast Asia and beyond aren’t necessary to meet today’s demand for natural rubber.

Kerry added that implementing responsible management practices on degraded land, rather than clearing high conservation value forests, will help meet industry demands, increase carbon stocks, maintain biodiversity and improve community livelihoods.

‘Following in the footsteps of Michelin’s 2016 zero deforestation policy, GM is the first automaker to announce their intent to develop tire procurement guidelines that aim to ensure zero deforestation and uphold human and labor rights throughout its supply chain. We welcome GM’s commitment to bring their top suppliers on board and hope today’s announcement will inspire automakers and tire makers alike to deliver on the promise of zero deforestation tires in the near future.’

‘Given that tire manufacture represents 75 percent of the natural rubber market, tire manufacturers and automakers have an important role to play in the transformation of this market.’

KERRY CESARE
WWF vice president, forests

Supply and demand

As tyre manufacturers develop sustainable natural rubber policies, car manufacturer demand will help fuel results. GM has said it will work with tyre suppliers, governments, rubber industry associations and environmental NGOs to drive alignment and reduce supply chain complexity.

GM is also working with suppliers such as Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear and Michelin to develop appropriate transparency into natural rubber and ensure its traceability throughout the supply chain. The company encourages other car manufacturers and suppliers to join in the effort to accelerate progress.

‘Our supplier partners are an extension of our company. We want to encourage affordable, safer and cleaner options for our customers that drive value to both our organization and the communities in which we work.’

STEVE KIEFER
GM senior vice president of Global Purchasing and Supply Chain

Click here for more on GM’s sustainability policy.