HANOVER—Continental A.G. wants to ensure its natural rubber is verifiably grown and sustainably sourced.
That's why the company has entered a partnership with Security Matters to develop and test a marker technology for natural rubber. Security Matters, located in Melbourne, Australia, focuses on the digitization of physical objects in the blockchain.
The markeer technology would contribute to transparency and traceability along Continental's "entire value chain of tires and technical rubber products," Continental said.
The project involves the use of marker substances to enable the "invisible labeling" of natural rubber with information on its exact geographical origin.
With the aid of special reading devices and specially developed software, the information on the rubber can be read out and its origin can be precisely assigned at any time.
Conti said it aimed to industrialize the technology, adding it "would be conceivable" for the marker technology to be linked to blockchain technology, which is known to be particularly forgery-proof.
"We are testing this marker technology to ensure in the future that the natural rubber we use in our tires has been verifiably grown and sourced in a fully sustainable manner," said Claus Petschick, head of sustainability at Continental's Tires business area.
The move is part of Conti's sustainability commitment which envisions the procurement of all materials from responsible resources by 2050.
"Innovative technologies and digitalization make an important contribution to this [commitment]," he said.
According to Conti, extensive laboratory tests by the two project partners have been successful. For instance, different marker substances currently being tested have been detected both in the natural rubber latex and in the processed and vulcanized natural rubber of tires.
While present along the entire manufacturing process, the markers did not alter the appearance and performance of the end product, Conti said.
Continental and Security Matters are working on utilizing the new marker technology on a larger scale during the process of rubber extraction.
"Our collaboration shows that physical and digital tracking can be ensured through 'unique and immutable' chemical-based barcodes in rubber products as well," said Haggai Alon, founder, and CEO of Security Matters.
"Together with Continental, we now want to use our marker technology to further improve the transparency of the natural rubber supply chain."