— GM just gave a rubber stamp to sustainable sourcing. The Detroit automaker this week announced plans to make what it calls the industry's first commitment to sustainable rubber for tires, which it says will reduce deforestation and uphold human rights in the natural rubber industry.
GM claims the move will preserve rubber forests, improve yield and quality of life for rubber farmers, and bolster the sustainability of a must-have automotive resource. Indeed, Automotive News reports the automaker buys some 49 million tires a year.
Steve Kiefer, GM's global purchasing and supply chain chief, said in a statement that the commitment will "encourage affordable, safer and cleaner options" for the automaker's customers.
GM is working with tire manufacturers like Bridgestone, Continental, Goodyear and Michelin to make rubber more traceable through the supply chain, a move that might help consumers identify where their tires come from. Automotive News notes those companies say they can't fully replace real rubber with a synthetic alternative, but they can ensure it's responsibly sourced.
Rubber trees — the source of natural rubber — exist only in equatorial regions because they require a hot, humid climate, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association, an industry group. Roughly 90 percent of natural rubber comes from Southeast Asia, RMA states.