General Motors to source sustainable natural rubber tyres

Car manufacturer General Motors has made an industry-pioneering commitment to source sustainable natural rubber in its tyres, in a bid to help drive net-zero deforestation in the sector.

The US-based firm, producer of brands such as Chevrolet, Cadillac and Vauxhall in 30 countries, vows to work with tyre suppliers, governments, rubber industry associations and NGOs to reduce supply chain complexity.

GM hopes the move will preserve and restore primary forests, improve yield and quality for natural rubber farmers, and mitigate business risk related to supply chain sourcing and performance.

“Our supplier partners are an extension of our company,” said GM senior vice president of global purchasing and supply chain Steve Kiefer. “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.”

Untiring efforts

With 32 million tonnes of material used each year by the tyre industry, and three-quarters of this material of fossil origin, it will crucial for the sector to source sustainable products and ensure that tyres are recycled at the end of their life cycle.

GM recently revealed to edie how recycling and remanufacturing has already added around $1bn in revenue to the company’s bottom line. The carmaker, which has also pledged to source 100% of electricity from renewables by 2050, is now ensuring 95% of its 10,000 parts used throughout its vehicle portfolio are recyclable.

The decision to source sustainable natural rubber should encourage other car manufacturers and suppliers to join in the effort to accelerate progress, GM said. The firm aims to develop transparency and traceability throughout the supply chain by working with suppliers such as Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear and Michelin.

The latter hit the headlines last month after its energy-saving tyres were shown to be 1.19% more fuel efficient than other premium brands. These were the findings of a year-long trial, which saw Michelin provide ‘regional’ tread pattern tyres for Ginsters Cornish Pasty brand owner, Samworth Brothers.

Meanwhile, global outdoor-wear company Timberland and tyre manufacturer and distributor Omni United are teaming up to produce a line of tyres intended to be recycled into footwear out-soles once finished with on the road.

George Ogleby

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