BMW has become the first vehicle manufacturer to use tyres made from sustainable rubber.
The first ones – from Pirelli – are to go on the X5 xDrive45e plug-in hybrid SUV as of this August, measuring 22 inches and comprising a mix of the certified natural rubber and rayon.
The rubber will come from certified plantations maintained to the independent Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) strict standards.
BMW board member Andreas Wendt, who is responsible for purchasing and the 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.’
Pirelli adapted its plant in Georgia to make tyres with FSC-certified natural rubber and rayon. They’re then taken to the BMW Group plant in South Carolina some 230 miles away.
Jeremy Harrison, chief markets officer for 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.’
Around six million farmers spread across a ‘rubber belt’ in the tropics produce more than 80 per cent of the world’s natural rubber and settling on the same social and environmental growing conditions has been difficult.
However, the FSC and its internationally recognised certification has helped cement ‘environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the forests’.
Its logo is already in widespread use in the wood and paper industry and has been applied more recently to natural rubber.