HANOVER, Germany — Continental A.G., in partnership with an Australian brand protection company, has developed a technology platform involving an "invisible marker" that the partners claim can help track the origins of natural rubber in tires.
Conti and Melbourne-based Security Matters Ltd. (SMX) said recently they carried out a "real test of resilience" on the marker substance and succeeded in verifying it "beyond doubt" in a tire.
In the field test, the substance was added to "responsibly grown latex" during harvesting.
From there, the marker had to withstand the intensive preparations involved in the production of NR as well as the tire manufacturing process.
In the manufactured bicycle tire, Conti went on to say, the data were retrieved using special, purpose-built software and a reader.
For the trial, the tire maker used NR grown in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan, where Conti is collaborating with the German development aid agency for the production of sustainable rubber.
As part of the test, and in line with the sustainability project in the region, Conti said local smallholders were taught how the marker substances worked and in what concentration they needed to be added to the latex.
Conti said the marker technology, which has been optimized for use with NR, will help it create greater transparency along its entire value chain of tires and technical rubber products.
The invisible marker substance carries information on the geographical origin of the natural rubber, and can, for example, verify if the rubber has been responsibly sourced.
The technology, Conti said, supports the group's target of using 100% responsibly sourced materials in all its tires by 2050 "at the latest".
"We see huge potential in marker technology," Claus Petschick, head of sustainability at Continental's tire business said.
"In the future, it will help us to ensure that the natural rubber we use in our tires is grown and sourced entirely responsibly," he added.