In recent decades, growing demand for natural rubber has seen the establishment of new industrial and smallholder plantations.
With around 70% of natural rubber going into tire production, members of the Tire Industry Project (TIP) recognize the importance of their contribution to sustainable natural rubber and are working to understand and address the range of positive and negative social and environmental impacts associated with its production.
In keeping with the TIP objectives of addressing the potential human health and environmental impacts associated with the life cycle of tires, leading tire companies are working with representatives of the natural rubber supply chain and non-governmental organizations to develop an independent global platform for the sustainable sourcing and production of natural rubber.
By benchmarking the sustainability initiatives of sectors that manage tropical commodities, the TIP has been able to identify the more effective of ways to address challenges like those faced in the production of natural rubber. With the aim of maximizing the global impact of a sustainable natural rubber platform, the tire industry favors an approach that would achieve high market penetration by engaging the whole supply chain in the mainstreaming of measures identified as most effective.
Towards this objective, an assessment led by the tire industry found general agreement amongst stakeholders on focus areas for sustainable natural rubber. Protecting biodiversity, appropriately managing water, improving yields, prevention of land grabbing, respect for human rights, transparency and traceability, and the involvement of smallholder farmers were all identified as priorities.
Broad stakeholder consensus on these primary sustainability objectives has provided the foundations for development of a proposal for the structure and operations of a sustainable natural rubber platform. To ensure the appropriate allocation of input from stakeholders responsible for implementing eventual standards and those responsible for validating their implementation, the tire industry foresees an Executive Committee of supply-chain representatives, bolstered by a General Assembly, an Advisory and Monitoring Committee, and issue-focused working groups.
To be headquartered in the strategically located island city-state of Singapore, the aim is to launch the platform at the end of 2018 and hold first operational meetings in early 2019.