Yokohama wants to make tyres without causing deforestation © Jakob Ebrey/Yokohama
Yokohama wants to make tyres without causing deforestation © Jakob Ebrey/Yokohama

Yokohama launches sustainable rubber procurement policy

15 October 2018

Yokohama Rubber has launched a new procurement policy aimed at sourcing rubber more sustainably, amid concerns around deforestation in southern Asia where it is farmed.

The policy outlines the company’s commitments on how it will source natural rubber, the basis for the production of Yokohama’s tyres, without causing deforestation or harming biodiversity.

It states that Yokohama will work to conserve areas of forest with high conservation value, as defined by monitoring group High Conservation Value Resource Network, and commits to not engaging in cultivation, development or slash-and-burn farming of peatland areas.

The policy also calls on suppliers to do the same, but adds that the company would take steps to support them in doing this, such as promoting the latest efficient farming techniques and investing in initiatives to search for materials which could replace natural rubber.

The company said it was participating in the Sustainable Natural Rubber Initiative, an inter-governmental organisation made up of rubber producers and consumer stakeholders, which aims to fight unsustainable rubber farming.

Of the world’s natural rubber resources, 90% is farmed from trees in forests between India and Vietnam, as well as in southern China and Indonesia, according to WWF.

Yokohama said that growth in demand in recent years has “increased concerns about a host of problems, including unlawful deforestation, land exploitation, human rights violations, and adverse effects on biodiversity”.

Forests in this region – many of which are home to elephants, tigers and other endangered species – are often cleared to make room for rubber trees.

Yokohama trails in the wake of Michelin, which committed to responsible sourcing in 2016, and Pirelli and Bridgestone, which did the same in 2017.

It was ranked the ninth biggest tyre company in the world this year by revenue by marketing consultancy Marketing 91.

Separately, budget supermarket Lidl has committed to responsible sourcing of soy, announcing that its soy supply chain will be 100% sustainable from now on.

A member of the Roundtable for Responsible Soy (RTRS), it has purchased the organisation’s credits for its entire soy supply chain, becoming the first UK supermarket to do so.

RTRS credits ensure that soy farmers receive benefits for producing soy to sustainable standards.

Energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry welcomed Lidl's move, saying she was “delighted” to see companies “seizing the opportunity” to fight climate change.

Amali Bunter, responsible sourcing manager for Lidl said the company wanted to create sustainable supply chains that protect the environment.

“We recognise the need to accelerate progress towards a secure, resilient supply of sustainable soy,” she said.

“Through the UK Roundtable for Sustainable Soy we look forward to working collaboratively with industry to ensure that this is achieved.”

Last month, Nestlé said it would use satellites to monitor its palm oil supply chains for evidence of deforestation, eventually planning to roll the service out to soy farming.

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