A new pilot project will see tire maker Continental testing and implementing a range of solutions to enhance the production and trade of responsibly sourced natural rubber.
Through the project the company aims to improve the transparency and sustainability of the natural rubber supply chain, while also ensuring the sale of more sustainable tires in the UK.
Set up by the Itochu Corporation, the Project TREE (Transparent Rubber Ecosystem for Earth) initiative will involve Continental sourcing traceable and responsibly sourced natural rubber for use within the company’s tire production processes.
By utilizing a mass balance credit mechanism, the tire maker will subsequently market the equivalent volume of tires as Project TREE tires. These tires will then be available for purchase from Kwik Fit, a company owned by Itochu.
“This project is completely aligned with our goal to increase the use of sustainable materials in the production of our tires, and ambition to reach 100% sustainable materials by 2050 at the latest,” said Tarik Görgün, managing director, Continental Tyre Group. “We want to empower drivers to make their own decisions about their vehicles and take proactive steps to reduce their environmental impact.
“The Project TREE tires will provide consumers with a sustainable option, which will allow them to make an informed decision when the time comes to purchase tires. This will also give us an opportunity to learn more about how motivated drivers are by sustainability.”
The project is supported by Itochu’s blockchain-based traceability system which enables the company to track and inspect its entire supply chain, beginning with natural rubber collecting points of sale outside protection areas, all the way to Continental’s manufacturing facility.
Through the sale of Project TREE tires, partners of the project hope to generate funds that incentivize and promote sustainable farming practices.
“Demand for natural rubber is expected to continue to grow, so we must ensure that this demand can be met in a way which supports ethical and responsible operations throughout the supply chain,” explained Mark Slade, managing director, Kwik Fit. “Project TREE is an exciting program which could provide the model for ensuring the [large-scale] sustainability of rubber production in the long term.”