HANOVER, Germany — In an initiative with Germany's Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation (BMZ), Continental A.G. is developing a digital-tracing system to support the sustainable sourcing and supply of natural rubber.
The project, which is being piloted in Indonesia, encompasses all stages from the cultivation of natural rubber and further processing through to tire production, Continental disclosed Aug. 27.
Under the collaboration with BMZ development agencies in Indonesia's West Kalimantan province of Borneo, partners document all steps in the supply-chain with a digital tracking system.
"The 450 small farmers involved so far achieve significantly higher sales prices than usual for the high-quality natural rubber they produce," Continental said.
This, it said, is because they are trained in sustainable cultivation and with better technology, such as how the rubber trees need to be cut in order to maximize yields.
The digital-tracing system allows the production and supply chain of the rubber to be evaluated in detail, the tire maker continued.
Production areas are mapped by GPS and raw-rubber deliveries and sales prices achieved are recorded directly on delivery in the warehouse.
In addition, the system checks the raw rubber quantity delivered with regard to the production area, Continental further pointed out.
"If the delivered quantity exceeds the expected production volume, the system indicates this to prevent rubber from entering the supply chain from unregistered — for example, illegally deforested — areas.
'The creation of sustainable and traceable supply chains is an integral part of our comprehensive sustainability strategy at Continental," Christian Koetz, head of the Continental Tires business area and member of the German group's executive board, said.
"In doing so, we are working together to ensure greater transparency and make a significant contribution to securing the livelihood of the small farmers involved in the project," Mr. Koetz said.
The goal, he concluded, "is to gradually expand electronic traceability within our natural rubber supply chains, thereby contributing to the global improvement of sustainability in the natural rubber sector."
"We need a rethink in the global economy to better protect people and nature," said federal development minister Gerd Müller. "Pioneers like Continental are demonstrating that in the digital age, social and ecological minimum criteria can be monitored along the supply chain.
"Through sustainable cultivation methods and a digital traceability system, we are helping to stop the destruction of nature and improve the incomes of small local farmers."
Both the BMZ and Continental are members of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber, founded in March 2019 by a broad spectrum of major stakeholders in the natural rubber value-chain.