GM commits to buy sustainable natural rubber tires

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. is partnering with several tire suppliers in what it believes is an industry-first commitment to buy tires that are made from sustainable natural rubber.

The Detroit automaker said Monday that the sustainable natural rubber comes from sources that “did not lead to deforestation,” was harvested to aid an area’s economic and social development, and is “managed in a transparent and traceable manner.”

GM buys about 49 million tires each year. It said its commitment will help preserve and restore forests, reduce carbon impacts in communities, boost the yield and quality for natural rubber farmers and reduce its own business risk related to supply-chain sourcing and help ensure the long-term availability of a key commodity.

GM has not set a timetable on when it hopes to achieve the goal, Steve Kiefer, GM’s senior vice president of global purchasing and the supply chain, said at a media event in Detroit. Kiefer said issues such as traceability of the rubber from the farm to a factory need to be figured out first.

“We’ll have a better answer over the coming months,” Kiefer said.

The Detroit automaker is working with suppliers including Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear and Michelin who support GM’s goal. GM said it plans to establish an industry roadmap for the goal by the end of the year and will be meeting with stakeholders to develop purchasing requirements and to develop traceability of natural rubber through the supply chain.

“We encourage all automakers, and competitors and peers, and suppliers to join in this effort to accelerate this progress,” Kiefer said.

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