Long After Investigations, A Platform For Sustainable Rubber

Published: 22 March 2019

rubber farm copyA rubber farm (Flickr)

By Aisha Kehoe Down

Six years after a Global Witness investigation revealed the illegal logging and massive land grabs behind Southeast Asia’s rubber industry, car companies and tire manufacturers around the world came together to take action on the environmental and human rights abuses involved in their business.

The Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber was officially adopted at the World Rubber Summit this week in Singapore, after an eighteen-month campaign by Global Witness. 

It unites tire companies like Goodyear and Michelin, car makers like BMW, and NGOs like WWF in addressing corruption and environmental issues in the world’s rubber supply. 

“The issues of deforestation, child labor, human rights, land grabbing--these issues are not going to wait for us,” said Andy Thompson, representing Bridgestone, the Australian tire manufacturer, at the ceremonial launch of the platform a few months ago. 

Deforestation, child labor, and land grabbing have been associated with the world’s rubber industry for years. Major rubber producers such as Hoang Anh Gia Lai and Vietnam Rubber Group have been associated with thuggish tactics, taking indigenous farmland and spiritual sites, and rapid deforestation

While tire companies have individually committed to making the supply chain more sustainable--Michelin adopted a zero-deforestation policy in 2016--Global Witness said often these commitments aren’t enough to stop environmental destruction.

“Some of these policies fall short of what is necessary to protect intact forests and indigenous communities, making the need for robust standards from the platform all the more critical,” it said in a press release.