In response to a new natural rubber procurement policy from the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, the largest tire maker in the US, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) issued the following statement from Kerry Cesareo, vice president, forests.
“With Goodyear’s commitment to only source natural rubber that is produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way, the critical mass needed to transform the rubber industry is now within reach.
“Four of the six largest tire makers in the world—Goodyear, Michelin, Bridgestone and Pirelli—now have made commitments that will help save the world’s forests. We are encouraged that, in a world where the number of vehicles is predicted to double by 2050, these companies have decided on a new ‘business as usual.’
“With this kind of company-level leadership, we are moving closer to a point that the unsustainable and illegal production of natural rubber, which is one of the leading drivers of deforestation in some areas of the world, can be curbed.
“Natural rubber production will continue to create jobs locally and meet global demand for rubber, particularly from the tire and automobile markets. But the production will be done in a way that does not harm the forests, rivers and other natural resources people and wildlife rely on to survive. And it will be done in a way that does not violate the rights of people who live and work in areas where there is a lot of rubber production.
“Goodyear’s policy does not go far enough. However, it is an important and big step in the right direction. Given the bad practices within the rubber industry, all which pose serious risks for companies that source rubber, we need to make the existing policies as strong as possible and encourage other companies to adopt sustainable natural rubber policies.
“Those policies should go beyond local regulations on human and labor rights and environmental safeguards, which often are insufficient. They can do so by including standards to respect, promote and protect the rights of indigenous people and workers; not deforest or degrade forests that are of high conservation value; and promote transparent supply chains with traceability to the plantation level. Policies should also specify commitments to independent monitoring and verification of policy implementation and ensuring that local communities benefit from the new business as usual.”