MUNICH, Germany — German car maker BMW A.G. has joined the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR), a coalition of stakeholders from across the natural rubber value-chain, including many major tire makers.
The move is a "rather logical approach," considering the amount of rubber used in the automotive industry, the Munich-based company said.
"BMW needs around 24,000 (metric) tons of rubber a year for tires alone," the company said, noting this move links to its efforts to combat climate change.
In a statement about joining the sustainability effort, BMW said in most cases natural rubber (NR) cultivation takes place in monocultures in Southeast Asia, across an area spanning nearly 20 million acres of land, with more than 80% grown on small farms, making it difficult to monitor social and environmental growing conditions.
"We have to avoid the production environment for natural rubber becoming like that for palm oil, which can lead to difficult, non-transparent social and ecological conditions in the regions concerned," Vanessa Buchberger, responsible for sustainable purchasing at BMW, said.
Although BMW only purchases NR indirectly, via its tire maker suppliers, it said "transparency and sustainability throughout the value chain are part of the company's philosophy."
Launched in March at a gathering of stakeholders in Singapore, the GPSNR aims to address issues such as conditions for rubber farmers, deforestation and land-grabbing, while working to ensure responsible sourcing of natural rubber.
All GPSNR founding members have committed to improve social and environmental conditions for cultivation and urge their business partners toward more sustainability, BMW noted.
BMW joins Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. as vehicle makers to join the GPSNR and pledge to adhere to its principles.
Tire company members are: Apollo Tyres Ltd.; Bridgestone Corp.; Continental A.G.; Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.; Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.; Hankook Tire Co. Ltd.; Kumho Tire Co. Inc.; Group Michelin; Nokian Tyres P.L.C.; Pirelli & C. S.p.A.; Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd.; Toyo Tire Corp.; and Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd.