Continental grows commitment to rubber supply chain sustainability
Continental is extending its commitment to sustainability in the natural rubber supply chain. The tyre maker and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) have agreed to significantly expand their project to ensure full traceability within the natural rubber supply chain in the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan (Borneo).
The number of smallholding farmers involved in the project will rise from 450 to 4,000 by 2024, but the project objective remains the same: Smallholding farmers in the natural rubber sector are trained to grow high-quality raw materials in compliance with clearly defined sustainability criteria. By improving the quality of the raw material, the income of smallholders is to be increased.
“Continental’s goal is to achieve 100 per cent sustainable supply chains by 2050. The valuable experience we are gaining in this project allows us to progressively increase the transparency of our natural rubber supply chains,” says Claus Petschick, head of sustainability within Continental’s Tires business area. “Education and digitalisation are important contributors to making our supply chains more sustainable.
“Together with our partners, we are demonstrating in Borneo that this can succeed in the natural rubber sector. I am pleased that we are now significantly expanding this successful project,” Petschick adds. Indonesia is one of the world’s largest producers of natural rubber. The Kapuas Hulu district, where Continental collaborates with the BMZ, has two national parks designated as UNESCO biosphere reserves.
Pursuing traceability since 2018
Continental and the BMZ implemented a digital traceability system for natural rubber within the region back in 2018. With its help, all steps of the natural rubber supply chain, from cultivation through further processing to Continental’s tyre plants, can be evaluated in detail. Cultivated areas are mapped by GPS and quantities of raw rubber delivered, as well as the prices paid for these, are documented in the system for each transaction. The partners also work with natural rubber suppliers Southland Global and Halcyon Agri Corporation, amongst others, to further process the raw rubber produced in the project and to implement traceability measures.
Minimising environmental, human rights & social risks
Continental stresses that sustainable and responsible business practices have been an integral part of its corporate strategy for many years as well as an important part of the ‘Vision 2030’ strategy programme for the Tires business area. The tyre manufacturer aims to differentiate itself specifically with sustainable technologies and innovative solutions. The focus here is on the strategic topics of climate action, low-emission mobility, the circular economy and sustainable supply chains, and therefore all phases along the value chain. The company’s ‘Natural Rubber Sourcing Policy’ defines clear responsibilities and commitments for Continental as well as all of its suppliers and service providers along the entire natural rubber value chain. The aim is to minimise environmental, human rights and social risks.
Both the BMZ and Continental are members of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR), a March 2019-founded stakeholder collaboration that works towards the global improvement of sustainability in the natural rubber sector. Both Continental and the BMZ aim to promptly take into account the guidelines for greater sustainability in the natural rubber sector elaborated here in their projects in Indonesia.