SINGAPORE — The Tire Industry Project (TIP) of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has formally launched its independent platform to improve socio-economic and environmental performance in the natural rubber (NR) supply chain.
Stakeholders in the NR industry, including tire and rubber product makers, auto makers, suppliers and processors, participated in the development of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber, (GPSNR), according to a WBCSD news release.
Non-governmental organizations also participated, the council said. However, Mighty Earth, an environmental group which has been highly critical of the tire industry's sustainable natural rubber programs, said neither it nor other NGOs were consulted.
"Sustainability advocates claim it prohibits key stakeholders like non-governmental and civil society organizations or small-scale farmers from having a seat at the table," Mighty Earth said.
"What the rubber industry needs is a platform that exemplifies leadership, and from the outset GPSNR is already failing," said Kristin Urquiza, deputy director of Mighty Earth. "In a true leadership position, GPSNR would be aligning industry to best practices for the climate, which is also good business."
The WBCSD held a ceremony in Singapore Oct. 25 to announce the establishment of the GPSNR.
The GPSNR is designed to harmonize standards to improve respect for human rights, prevent land-grabbing and deforestation, protect biodiversity and water resources, improve NR yields and increase supply chain transparency and traceability, the WBCSD said.
The NR sustainability platform has been in development since November 2017, the WBCSD said. Chief executive officers of the WBCSD initiated the project, and a working group of TIP member companies led the project after that, it said.
"TIP members continue to work to ensure the sustainable production and supply of natural rubber, and in joining the platform they commit to be able to demonstrate the integration of principles for sustainable natural rubber into their purchasing and/or operational activities," the WBCSD said.
At the launch ceremony, WBCSD President and CEO Peter Bakker noted that tire makers consume about 70 percent of the world's NR production, with demand continuing to grow.
"This throws into sharp relief the social, economic and environmental opportunities associated with this important commodity," Mr. Bakker said.
"The GPSNR will consider the people, communities and natural resources touched by natural rubber production and supply," he said. "They all stand to benefit from the creation and adoption of sustainable and responsible practices."
The launch ceremony included the signing of the GPSNR by the 11 members of the GPSNR—Bridgestone Corp., Continental A.G., Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Goodyear, Hankook Tire Co. Ltd., Kumho Tire Co. Ltd., Michelin, Pirelli & C. S.p.A., Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd., Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. and Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd.
Most of these companies have already implemented their own NR sustainability programs.
Also signing the document were Ford Motor Co., Halcyon Agri Corp. Ltd., ITOCHU Corp., Kirana Megatara, SIPEF, the Socfin Group and Southland Global PTE Ltd.
A dedicated GPSNR secretariat will begin operations in Singapore in March 2019, the WBCSD said. Meanwhile, the GPSNR is open to applications from membership from other NR stakeholders, it said.