Global platform for sustainable natural rubber launched

Members of the Tire Industry Project (TIP) and other stakeholders came together on 25 October to celebrate the inauguration of a new platform for positively transforming the natural rubber supply chain. Following 12 months of stakeholder collaboration, the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR) has been launched with what is described as “an ambitious and wide-reaching set of priorities” for the natural rubber chain.

According to TIP host organisation the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the GPSNR will “work to harmonise standards to improve respect for human rights, prevent land-grabbing, protect biodiversity and water resources, improve yields, and increase supply chain transparency and traceability.”

Speaking at the launch, Peter Bakker, WBCSD president and chief executive officer, said: “The tyre industry consumes around 70 per cent of natural rubber and demand is growing. This throws into sharp relief the social, economic and environmental opportunities associated with this important commodity. The GPSNR will consider the people, communities and natural resources touched by natural rubber production and supply – they all stand to benefit from the creation and adoption of sustainable and responsible practices.”

The ceremonial launch included the signing of a GPSNR Member Statement by the 11 TIP members as well as Ford Motor Company, Halcyon Agri Corporation Limited, ITOCHU Corporation, Kirana Megatara, SIPEF, The Socfin Group, and Southland Global PTE Ltd.

Bakker praised the efforts of founding and prospective GPSNR members in bringing the platform to launch, adding: “This spirit of collaboration will define the actions of the platform going forward – there is strength in diversity, and the various interests and expertise within the GPSNR can deliver a truly sustainable natural rubber supply chain.”

“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link; it is in the interest of the entire supply chain to ensure sustainable standards are met and maintained,” shares the WBCSD. “The GPSNR will have clear membership criteria and supply chain standards that members must commit to maintain effective involvement. Members of the GPSNR will undertake binding commitments, and the GPSNR will constructively address failures to honour those commitments and act decisively in the event of noncompliance with remedial measures.”

The TIP spearheaded development of the GPSNR and will financially support the platform during start-up and its first two years of operation – a level of support considered necessary to ensure basic operations while a paying membership base is established. Despite industry backing, the GPSNR is expected to maintain its independence. “Once officially launched, the platform will be independently managed, with governance and decision making overseen by a representative group of stakeholders,” stresses Anne-Cécile Remont, TIP director.

In developing the platform, a review of comparable supply chain sustainability initiatives, including natural rubber, revealed that meaningful change was best achieved through the mainstreaming of good practices. Remont explains that this was central to discussions around the GPSNR’s governance structure. “Successful mainstreaming requires actionable commitment from the entire supply chain. Best results are found where the various contributions of stakeholder groups are relative to their ownership of supply chain opportunities, their relevant expertise and their capacity to implement meaningful change.”

The WBCSD states that “TIP has employed a truly collaborative effort to ready the GPSNR for launch, and that spirit of collaboration will define the actions of the platform going forward.“ The council adds: “TIP is confident that the diverse interests, experiences, areas of expertise, and motivations represented within the GPSNR will combine to deliver a successful, sustainable natural rubber supply chain.”

Cooper Tire: The right way to drive toward solutions

Commenting on the launch of the GPSNR, Cooper Tire & Rubber, one of 11 tyre makers participating in TIP, described the platform as one that will lead improvements in the socio-economic and environmental performance of the natural rubber value chain.

“Cooper believes that a coordinated, universal and standard industry approach is the right way to drive toward solutions in establishing and promoting sustainable natural rubber practices,” said Chuck Yurkovich, Cooper Tire’s senior vice-president – global research and development. “We are proud to be among leaders in the industry who have agreed to found the GPSNR and follow through with its important work.”

GPSNR membership is open to all tyre manufacturers, other rubber users, suppliers and processors, vehicle makers and non-governmental organisations that demonstrate commitment and/or action to sustainable natural rubber production and supply. The platform will be headquartered in Singapore and begin operations in March 2019 with an inaugural GPSNR General Assembly.

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