Pirelli Tires Commits to Deforestation Free Rubber

Tire Leader Joins Michelin – World Waits for Bridgestone, Continental, and Goodyear

Global tire giant Pirelli, a major user of natural rubber, has released a sustainable rubber policy that promises to protect people and forests by banning deforestation, land grabbing, and labor abuse.

“Pirelli’s announcement is good news for gibbons, tigers, and elephants whose habitat has been destroyed by rapidly expanding rubber plantations,” said Mighty Earth Campaign Director Kristin Urquiza.  “When buying tires, people want to think about performance, safety, and fuel economy, not destruction of wildlife habitat and human rights abuse.”

Demand for natural rubber is driven by the production of tires for the more than one billion vehicles – commercial, passenger, and aircraft – that operate around the globe. Much of the expansion of natural rubber plantations to meet rising global demand has come from extremely rapid deforestation in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and, Myanmar.  From 2001-2014, tree cover loss in Cambodia accelerated faster than any country in the world, according to data from the World Resources’ Institute Global Forest Watch.

The tire industry accounts for at least 70 percent of global natural rubber consumption with the top five brands – Bridgestone, Michelin, Goodyear, Continental, and Pirelli – accounting for about half of the industry’s consumption. Michelin had previously adopted a strong No Deforestation policy.

“Bridgestone, Continental, and Goodyear need to join the race towards a responsible tire industry while there are still forests left to save,” Urquiza said. “We hope to work with the company and other civil society partners to increase the clarity of its policy, and ensure that its suppliers implement it right away.”

There’s a lot at stake. Loss of forests account for approximately 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and is a major contributor to climate change. By some estimates, the expansion of deforestation for rubber between now and 2024 could release the same amount of carbon dioxide – a major rubber carbon bomb – as the country of India does annually.

The Pirelli policy marks the third policy of its type from tire producers. In 2016 Michelin, a French tire producer, announced a sourcing policy. And earlier this year Luxembourg Socfin Group announced its own. Mighty Earth is calling on all major tire companies to pass similar policies.

 

Image credit: Peter Martin