Worldwide, 12.4 million (Mn) tonnes of natural rubber are consumed every year1, harvested in a total estimated area of 12M hectares (ha)2. Rubber plantation threatens tropical forests, especially in Southeast Asia3. Further, it is also linked to hydrological change, forest loss, extinction of native species, & soil & groundwater contamination due to processing3.
Michelin develops & manufactures tires for cars, trucks & buses internationally4. In 2020, the company had 15% of the global tire market, while Bridgestone had 13.6%5;p92. Michelin did not disclose the amount of raw material sourced5. Since Bridgestone sourced 4.15Mt of raw materials, it can be estimated Michelin sourced around 4.6Mn t6;p16. Considering the material composition of tires, Michelin sourced 1.2Mn t of natural rubbers, 805k t of synthetic rubbers, and 1.15Mt of fillers19. On average, one hectare of land yields 2.5 t of natural rubber; Michelin sources raw material from 480k ha annually7.
The company sources its rubbers from Indonesia, West Africa (Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, and Liberia), and Thailand9, with about 87% of its rubber coming from smallholder farmers8;p21. In these countries, rubber plantation expansion is one of the main drivers of deforestation10,11;p1,12,21,26,12;p1. Indonesia alone lost over 115k ha of forest in 202013.
Synthetic polymers used by Michelin are made from crude oil14. Oil exploration and drilling have the potential to disrupt land15. Oil and gas drilling causes pollution, upsets wildlife, and destroys public lands set aside for the benefit of people16.
Currently, about 28% of the raw materials used for Michelin's tires are from sustainable sources (26% bio-sourced materials such as natural rubber, sunflower oil, limonene, etc., and 2% recycled materials like steel or recycled powdered tires)17;p1. This leaves most of the company's raw materials suppliers open to deforestation risks.
Michelin tires' raw materials have detrimental environmental impacts.
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