- General Motors has determined to purchase only sustainably-sourced rubber for the nearly 50 million tires it buys annually, Automotive News reported Monday.
- The automaker is hoping to influence others within the industry to follow suit in hopes of reducing deforestation and maintaining sourcing. Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear and Michelin are working with GM on the new initiative.
- While tires cannot be completely created without some synthetic additions, GM says responsible sourcing for the natural rubber needed can be ensured. The company seeks to limit long-term risk through sustainable practices, Environmental Leader reports.
Sustainability takes many forms, depending on how it's defined — whether in preserving a community's way of life or in ensuring that an industry has the products it needs ten, twenty, or thirty years down the line, when irresponsible sourcing will find itself in an impossible situation.
Consider the packaging industry. Trees are used for cardboard boxes, for packing fill, for invoice paper, bills of lading in delivery, time cards for workers. Currently, most package makers plant trees to ensure the raw material they need will be available when needed. In fact, some even sponsor outreach programs to teach children the necessity and value of planting.
Package makers have it easy, in that the trees they source aren't limited to a specific geographic region. Nor are they part of a culture that relies on or reveres Maple or Birch or Oak. Such is the case with rubber trees, however, proving that GM is acting with both foresight and responsibility in taking steps now to responsibly source rubber. Further, by engaging major tire makers, they're attempting to restructure the industry. Will other automakers follow suit?