BMW is continuing with its sustainability offensive, this week announcing that the X5 xDrive45e plug-in hybrid will be offered with Pirelli tires made with FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) natural rubber and rayon. This makes BMW the first automaker to use the new Pirelli FSC-certified tires, but similar efforts have long been underway not only at BMW, but also with other wood-based products like paper. For example, that ream of paper sitting in your printer’s feed tray is likely FSC-certified or SFI-compliant (Sustainable Forestry Initiative, the U.S. equivalent to FSC), and BMW has been pursuing similar efforts in the way of sustainable spare parts packaging, lithium extraction, and battery cells.
“As a premium manufacturer, we aspire to lead the way in sustainability and take responsibility,” said Dr. Andreas Wendt, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for purchasing and the supplier network. “We have been committed to improving cultivation of natural rubber and increasing transparency in the supplier network since 2015. The use of tires 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.”
The units themselves are a 22-inch set of Pirelli P Zero tires, which bear a small FSC logo on their sidewall. The tires are manufactured by Pirelli in the company’s Rome, Georgia, plant, which was adapted to produce them using the necessary natural rubber and rayon. After being created, the tires are trucked approximately 230 miles to Spartanburg, South Carolina, the home of BMW’s largest manufacturing plant, which produces the X vehicle lineup from X3 through X7. FSC-certified Pirelli P Zero tires also display a BMW star spec marking, which signifies that they meet BMW’s strict performance standards for low noise and rolling resistance.
Giovanni Tronchetti Provera, Pirelli’s senior vice president for sustainability and future mobility, explained that, “Before even reaching the road, sustainable mobility begins with raw materials. With the world’s first FSC-certified tire, Pirelli once again demonstrates its commitment to pursuing increasingly challenging goals in terms of sustainability, a testament to the constant work on innovative materials and increasingly cutting-edge production processes. We continue to invest in sustainable growth for our planet, aware that this is also essential for the future of our businesses.”
The Forest Stewardship Council was founded in 1993 and is headquartered in Bonn, Germany. Jeremy Harrison, chief markets officer, FSC International, added: “The new FSC-certified Pirelli Tire 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.”
In 2013, the BMW i3 hit the market with FSC-certified wood used for its interior, and this year, the iX will do the same. During 2019, BMW worked with tire manufacturers, NGOs, rubber producers, and consumers to launch the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR). Since its founding, the GPSNR has amassed almost 100 members who are responsible for approximately 50% of the world’s natural rubber supply. The GNSPR also represents small rubber farmers, of whom there are roughly 6,000,000 globally, which are responsible for 80% of the world’s natural rubber harvesting.
Through the GPSNR and with close cooperation from its suppliers like Pirelli, BMW intends to improve the supply of sustainable rubber in the supply chain and to expand its use of tires manufactured using sustainably grown rubber.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]