Responsible management of the natural rubber supply chain
As one of the world’s largest buyers of natural rubber, the Michelin Group is a key market player. We therefore have a special responsibility to support sustainable rubber production, which is at the core of our sustainable development strategy.
In 2015, Michelin and WWF decided to work together to push the rubber market to adopt more sustainable practices. This partnership has been reconducted in 2019 for 4 years. To learn more (report about the intitial partnership, and objectives of the renewal), click here.
Our responsible natural rubber approach is based on 4 types of actions:
1. Publication of our sustainable natural rubber policy in 2016, which identified the Group’s public commitments in 5 areas:
- Respecting people
- Protecting the environment
- Improving agricultural practices
- Careful use of natural resources
- Good governance
Our sustainable natural rubber policy is available here (by selecting “natural rubber” in categories)
2. Evaluation of CSR practices in our rubber supply chain in two different areas:
Our direct suppliers, via the EcoVadis platform. In 2016, we assessed more than 80% of our natural rubber volumes.
Our upstream supply chain, via a mobile application called Rubberway®. This app will allow us to map out the CSR practices of various stakeholders in our supply chain (from rubber processing plants to intermediaries to plantations larger than 50 ha to small farmers). The mapping that is produced will highlight areas with social and environmental risks. The results will be shared with our suppliers and could serve as the basis of improvement plans. The Group plans to assess 80% of our volume of natural rubber by the end of 2020.
NATURAL RUBBER SUPPLY CHAIN CSR PRACTICES ASSESSMENT
3. Action in the field with pilot plantations
In 2015, Michelin and the Indonesian company Barito Pacific created a joint venture to produce eco-friendly natural rubber at two sites in Indonesia: one in Sumatra, the other in Borneo. The objective is to create model rubber plantations, in both social and environmental terms.
Working with local communities, over an area of nearly 80,000 ha, we plan to replant rubber trees on about 34,000 ha and the rest of the surface, the forest and plant community crops.
The project also aims to protect primary forests and natural parks bordering the plantations, as well as elephants, tigers, orangutans, etc.
These plantations should eventually produce nearly 60,000 tons of natural rubber and create around 10,000 local jobs.
Note: compared to the initial project of 2015, it was decided to increase the area in the forest vs. the area planted.
4. A global environmentally responsible platform for sustainable natural rubber
On October 25, 2018, the launch of “The Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber” or GPSNR was celebrated in Singapore. This independent platform aims to improve the environmental and socio-economic performance of the natural rubber industry. The TIP (Tire Industry Project), of which Michelin is one of the founding members, initiated this project. All the stakeholders in the natural rubber value chain were gathered for the occasion: suppliers, care manufacturers, NGOs, etc.
The main missions of the GPSNR are to:
- harmonize standards to improve respect for human rights,
- prevent land-grabbing,
- protect biodiversity and water resources,
- improve yields and
- increase supply chain transparency and traceability
The first general meeting took place in March 2019, in Singapore.