General Motors (GM), through its Vice President of Global Purchasing and Supply Steve Kiefer, announced Monday its aim of using green or sustainable rubber for all its tires. Even then, the company and its tire suppliers already make use of a good percentage of natural rubber but Kiefer reiterated on upgrading its standards so that GM tires become 100 percent sustainable.
GM is working with companies like Bridgestone Americas Inc., Continental Tire the Americas, Goodyear and Michelin for its plan. The automaker also wants to achieve net-zero deforestation while upholding human and labor rights among farmers harvesting rubber in Brazil, Indonesia and Thailand, as per Channel News Asia.
"We want to encourage affordable, safer and cleaner options for our customers that drive value to both our organization and the communities in which we work," Kiefer said. Eventually, GM would also like to involve its stakeholders.
By June, the company will have a dialogue with stakeholders for the Michelin's Movin' On Conference, as per Rubber & Plastic News. The plan is to develop a road map by the end of 2017 to ensure zero environmental impact. The company also intends to consult with government agencies, environmental organizations and other automakers.
Kiefer admitted this is a long process to undertake. He acknowledged there's a complicated supply chain in the industry and some sectors could be slow to respond to changes no matter how good it will be in the long run. "That's why we're going so public right now is to try and get more industry support for this," he said.
Tire manufacturers use synthetic rubber along with natural rubber during production. Juan Botero of the Continental tire company said synthetic rubber, while useful, isn't a good replacement for natural rubber. With demand for vehicles growing worldwide, the automotive industry does need to come up with a more sustainable means.
"Mother nature does a fantastic job with this material," Botero said as per Michigan Radio. "We, unfortunately, cannot, let's say, build tires, with the same properties without natural rubber."