London – The tire & rubber sector is not doing enough to ensure the sustainable sourcing of its raw materials, claims Mighty Earth, citing an own-commissioned survey showing that most European consumers “feel strongly” about the industry’s impact on tropical forests and communities.
As demand for latex has soared in recent years, rubber tree plantations have encroached into areas of rainforest, said the campaign group in a 14 Oct release about its poll.
Among the survey findings, 71% of respondents in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the UK said issues around the impact of such deforestation on communities and the environment were “extremely” or “very” important to them.
Another 79% agreed with a suggestion that guarantees ensuring products are not linked to deforestation or human-rights abuses would influence their brand choices.
Mighty Earth also claimed support by 54% of respondents for its campaign to have conditions placed on Covid-19 bailout packages for automotive and tire companies to ensure public money is not used to purchase rubber linked to deforestation.
Consumers in Europe clearly feel strongly about the threat of unsustainable rubber production, Heather Weiss, senior associate at Mighty Earth concluded in the press statement.
“Unfortunately, the rubber industry is still lagging behind other sectors in addressing these concerns,” she said. “This poll should motivate companies that use rubber such as tire, auto and shoe companies to speed up their efforts to source 100% sustainable natural rubber.”
In response, the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR) – of which Mighty Earth is a founder and has a place on the executive committee – insisted that it is addressing environmental, social and economic issues surrounding the production of natural rubber.
“Under our recently approved policy framework, GPSNR members, who represent almost half of the global market volume of rubber, are integrating into their company policies [sustainability] commitments,” GPSNR director Stefano Savi said in a 19 Oct written statement to ERJ.
Member companies, added Savi, commit to no deforestation based on high conservation values and the high carbon stock approach, as well as to community livelihoods and respecting all human rights.
“The findings from this survey validate GPSNR's vision for a fair, equitable and environmentally sound natural rubber value chain,” Savi commented.
He also expressed the hope that GPSNR would be a “source of motivation” for the rest of the natural rubber industry to move towards more sustainable practices.