BMW has become the first automotive manufacturer to utilise sustainably-made tyres crafted from certified natural rubber and a wood-based material called rayon.
Sourced from Pirelli, the first 22-inch tyres will be used from August this year on the X5 xDrive45e plug-in hybrid SUV.
The tyres are made from rubber taken from certified plantations kept within the strict standards of the independent Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Dr Andreas Wendt, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for purchasing and supplier network, said: “As a premium manufacturer, we aspire to lead the way in sustainability and take responsibility.”
“We have been committed to improving cultivation of natural rubber and increasing transparency in the supplier network since 2015. The use of tyres made of certified natural rubber is a pioneering achievement for our industry. In this way, we are helping preserve biodiversity and forests to counteract climate change.”
Natural rubber is used in all manner of products, including boots and mattress. Around six million small farmers across the world are responsible for producing over 80 per cent of the world’s natural rubber. Because these farmers are spread across a ‘rubber belt’ in the tropical regions, agreeing uniform social and environmental growing conditions has proven difficult.
However, the FSC and its internationally recognised certification standard has helped to cement ‘environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the forests’. Its logo has already been used widely in the wood and paper industry but has more recently applied it to natural rubber.
Pirelli adapted its plant in Rome, Georgia, to create tyres using FSC-certified natural rubber and rayon which are then transported to the BMW Group plant in Spartanburg, around 230 miles away.
Jeremy Harrison, chief markets officer, FSC International, said: “The new FSC-certified Pirelli tyre is a significant milestone in the drive to deliver economic, social, and environmental benefits across the natural rubber value chain. This is a major step forward in the journey towards a more sustainable natural rubber value chain, thereby helping to mitigate deforestation and support the fight against climate change.”