The International Rubber Study Group (IRSG) has named Professor Joseph Adelegan as its new secretary-general. Professor Adelegan officially took on his new role on 1 December 2022. IRSG describes Professor Adelegan as “a C-Suite Executive and an international development expert”. A Professor of Practice of Environmental Science and Engineering and a practitioner-scholar in management with over three decades of professional experience across 20 African Countries, Europe and United States, his work spans several organizations including the United Nations, development finance institutions, international organizations, government, non-governmental organizations, education, innovation and research institutions.
Global natural rubber production reached approximately 1.435 million tonnes during October 2022, a 3.5 per cent increase on production a year earlier. The Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC) reports that its members accounted for around 87 per cent of this production.
According to Dr Sawar Dhanania, chairman of the Government of India’s Rubber Board, natural rubber production within the country “will not be sufficient to meet the consumer industry’s demands” in coming years. He thus sees an “urgent need” to increase the area under rubber cultivation, something that tyre makers are helping to achieve via the NE-MITRA project.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries has provided an update on research undertaken together with two partners, reporting they have “shed new light on the mysteries” surrounding the rubber vulcanisation process in tyre production. This knowledge may help the Falken brand manufacturer “further improve overall tyre performance” in future.
Two new Michelin tyres take the manufacturer a step closer towards its goal of production with 100% bio-sourced, renewable or recycled materials by 2050. Approved for road use, the non-production car and bus tyres respectively contain 45% and 58 % sustainable materials. With “performance levels strictly identical to current tyres” they prefigure the technologies we’ll see in Michelin products within two to three years.
The goal at Continental is to exclusively obtain natural rubber for its tyres from responsible sources as of 2030. Confirmation of responsible sourcing is essential to natural rubber’s status as a sustainable raw material, and gaining this confirmation requires traceability within the supply chain. Although completely seamless traceability is currently technically impossible, Continental says it is “working at full speed” on a blueprint for the sustainable and responsible structuring of natural rubber supply chains.
The International Rubber Study Group (IRSG) believes there are “no sustainable alternatives” to natural rubber. In order to gain a greater understanding of how climate change economically and socially impacts this industry, IRSG has enhanced its collaboration with the Singapore Agri-Food Lab (SAIL) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). This collaboration may expand in future to focus on sustainability in the supply chain beyond the plantation.
Mountain bike tyres from the Continental Gravity range have become the first products to feature responsibly sourced natural rubber from a project aimed at establishing sustainable natural rubber supply chains. Continental aims to achieve 100 per cent sustainable supply chains by 2050 at the latest, but is going one step further when it comes to natural rubber and intends to cover its entire demand exclusively through responsible sources by as soon as 2030.
Bridgestone Corporation owns almost 24,000 hectares of natural rubber plantations in Indonesia and has approved plans to increase yields there to ensure a sustainable supply of natural rubber for its tyre production. The company will invest US$26.7 million by 2030. The aim of these investments is to enhance the plantations’ productivity, with Bridgestone setting a goal of doubling harvest volumes (compared with 2022 projections) in a given area in 2035.
Today is a big day for the Bridgestone team tasked with developing tyres containing natural rubber derived from the guayule desert shrub. An all-new Firestone race tyre with a sidewall made with this rubber makes its competition debut at this weekend’s IndyCar Series racing in Nashville, USA.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) reports progress in its joint work with professors from three universities to improve natural rubber yields and create new strains of rubber that will enhance tyre performance.
With the purchase of the 49 per cent shareholding that Barito Pacific Group had in Royal Lestari Utama (RLU), the joint venture pilot project to develop sustainable rubber tree plantations in Indonesia becomes a 100 per cent Michelin-owned affair. Moving forwards, Michelin views RLU as a “significant long-term opportunity to actively contribute to making the natural rubber sector more sustainable.”
On 14 June 2022 Hou Yugang, chairman of Zaozhuang Mining Group, went to Zhongxing Huitong Tire for research purposes. During his public speech, Hou Yugang affirmed that Zaozhuang Mining Group’s takeover of OTR tyre specialist Huitong had transitioned smoothly following the transfer of equity.
Several tyre makers plan to offer tyres containing natural rubber from non-conventional sources. Bridgestone Americas has been working to commercialise guayule shrub rubber for a decade and recently announced the upcoming motorsport debut of a race tyre made with guayule rubber grown and extracted at its R&D facilities. It will introduce the new Firestone Firehawk at the Indy Pit Stop Challenge on 27 May ahead of the race tyre’s competitive premiere in August.
Japanese tyre maker Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd. (SRI) says its collaboration in a research project has resulted in a technique that may improve natural rubber yields and even enable natural rubber biosynthesis within a laboratory.