GM Encourages Competitors to Use Sustainable Rubber


As Americans become better educated about irresponsible acts of devastation around the globe, they are choosing to purchase sustainable products. Even the local fish market has seen "the writing on the wall" and only purchase fresh fish from environmentally responsible sources. Some have taken their protests to social media and rallied boycotts against companies that have been slow to change their hazardous practice. Unfortunately, little attention has been given to an expendable product that most of us rely on every day — the tires on the vehicles that transport us from one place to another.

Automotive giant General Motors recently announced that the company would commit to buying sustainable natural rubber for the 49 million tires that are sold on GM cars and trucks annually. The initiative targets the smaller rubber farms in South America, Latin America and Asia that support local economic and social development through sustainable practices. GM officials stated that their goal is to use rubber that does not contribute to deforestation and upholds human and labor rights of workers. The Detroit-based multinational corporation is also encouraging other auto manufacturers to follow suit.

Surprisingly, efforts to produce tires from 100% synthetic materials have not proven cost-effective, as natural rubber is not easy to replicate in the laboratory. Simply stated, Mother Nature does a great job at producing a flexible and durable product. The environment impact comes from the fact that rubber trees only grow in a narrow band along the equator. Globally, these are areas where deforestation of rain forests frequently occurs to allow for large-scale development of rubber tree farms. By creating a source of green tires for today's discriminating car owners, GM hopes to protect and preserve native economies, landscapes and wildlife habitats.

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