HANOVER, Germany—Continental is working with the German government on a digital tracing system designed to support the sustainable sourcing and supply of natural rubber.
The project encompasses all stages of the process, from the cultivation and processing of natural rubber to tire production. Partners can document all the steps in the supply chain with the digital tracking system.
The project is being piloted in Indonesia and involves Germany's federal ministry of economic cooperation and development (BMZ), which has development agencies in the West Kalimantan province of Borneo.
"We need a rethink in the global economy to better protect people and nature," federal development minister Gerd Mueller said. "Pioneers like Continental are demonstrating that in the digital age, social and ecological minimum criteria can be monitored along the supply chain."
The 450 small farmers involved have so far achieved significantly higher sales prices than usual for their natural rubber, Continental said.
"This is due to the fact that they are trained in sustainable cultivation and with better technology, such as how the trees need to be cut in order to obtain as much rubber as possible," Continental said. "The small farmers thus significantly increase their surface yields and can use the trees for longer."
Production areas are mapped by GPS. Raw rubber deliveries and sales prices are recorded directly on delivery in the warehouse.
"If the delivered quantity exceeds the expected production volume, the system indicates this to prevent rubber from entering the supply chain from unregistered—for example, illegally deforested—areas," Continental said.
Creating sustainable and traceable supply chains is an "integral part of our comprehensive sustainability strategy at Continental," said Christian Koetz, head of the Continental Tires business area and member of the German group's executive board. "(The goal) is to gradually expand electronic traceability within our natural rubber supply chains, thereby contributing to the global improvement of sustainability in the natural rubber sector."
"Through sustainable cultivation methods and a digital traceability system, we are helping to stop the destruction of nature and improve the incomes of small local farmers," Mueller added.
Both the BMZ and Continental are members of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber, founded in March 2019 by a broad spectrum of major stakeholders in the natural rubber value chain.