BMW Group 1st automotive manufacturer to use new Pirelli tires containing FSC-certified natural rubber and rayon
The BMW Group is stepping up its activities in the field of sustainability, becoming the first automotive manufacturer worldwide to equip its cars with tires using certified sustainable natural rubber and rayon, a wood-based material used to strengthen the tires.
The company will source 22-inch tires in the first instance exclusively from Pirelli and, from August of this year, will use them in the BMW X5 xDrive45e Plug-in-Hybrid. Certification of the rubber plantations and the complex supply chain for natural rubber and rayon takes place in accordance with the strict standards of the independent Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
Natural rubber is the basic material for many products used in daily life, such as boots and mattresses. About six million small farmers worldwide are responsible for more than 80% of the world’s natural rubber cultivation. In the rubber belt across the tropical regions, they run farms of between one and two hectares in size under a wide variety of different conditions. Agreeing on uniform social and environmental growing conditions with these millions of small individual farms is therefore a major challenge.
By far the largest share of natural rubber grown worldwide goes into tire production. Natural rubber’s high elasticity and sturdiness currently make it irreplaceable for tire production.
As an independent organization, FSC has developed an internationally recognized and demanding certification standard in recent years that is used worldwide for environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the forests. The organization also applies this standard to products made of natural rubber.
The new 22-inch P ZERO ★ tire is the first tire to receive the FSC label. To earn this certification, Pirelli adapted its US plant in Rome, Georgia, to produce tires using FSC-certified natural rubber and rayon. From there, the tires are delivered to BMW Group Plant Spartanburg, around 370 km away, and mounted on the BMW X5 Plug-in Hybrid. The “★” in the name indicates that the new tire meets the BMW Group’s strict performance requirements, including particularly low rolling resistance and noise level.
The use of the first tires containing certified sustainable natural rubber and rayon at the BMW Group is the result of the company’s extensive commitment in this area. In 2019, the BMW Group joined forces with well-known tire manufacturers, NGOs, rubber producers and consumers to create the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR). Small farmers are also represented in this initiative.
The GPSNR is committed to improving social and environmental conditions for cultivation of natural rubber and pushing for more sustainability. It also implements measures to stop deforestation and make supply chains more transparent. The GPSNR currently has almost 100 members, who are responsible for about 50% of the global natural rubber market.
Through its activities in the GPSNR and close cooperation with its suppliers, the BMW Group is constantly working to further improve sustainability in the natural rubber supply chain. The BMW Group is stepping up these activities and plans to steadily expand its sourcing of tires made from sustainably grown natural rubber.
The BMW Group has been working with the FSC organisation for many years (Licence code FSC-N002012). The company decided to use FSC-certified wood in the BMW i3, which was first launched onto the market in 2013. The BMW iX for release later this year will also feature FSC-certified wood. In 2017, the BMW Group and FSC advocated for further development of FSC standards for cultivation of natural rubber in Thailand.