Natural rubber is one of the main ingredients for tires. It is the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of families living in countries where the local legislation and working conditions have not been fully developed.
Natural rubber is cultivated in forests, often on small farms. Most of the natural rubber that we use comes from Malaysia and Indonesia.
Traceability remains problematic as the supply chain is fragmented. There are approximately 3–6 million farmers of natural rubber who collect the milky latex or cup lumps and sell them to local dealers. They collect them from several farmers and then sell the latex forward to processing plants.
More than 85% of the world’s natural rubber is produced on farms smaller than two hectares in size whose daily output may be just a couple of kilograms of latex.
Processing plants purify the natural rubber, process it as specified, pack it for further use, and sell it to the global traders or customers. Nokian Tyres exclusively purchases rubber, which is being processed in the plants our company has approved.
Nokian Tyres considers cooperation with the industry and other stakeholders to be vital in improving these conditions. The tire industry has made a joint effort to move towards sustainable natural rubber, also as concerns labor rights. In 2019, Nokian Tyres joined the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR), which is a platform established by WWF, several other nonprofit organizations, rubber traders and processors, and large tire manufacturers.
GPSNR strives to increase the supply and uptake of sustainable natural rubber in the global marketplace. Members of the platform will develop sustainable natural rubber standards, mechanisms and guidance on the implementation, monitoring, and verification of sustainable natural rubber commitments from companies.
In 2019, Nokian Tyres’ procurement team developed a new classification model for assessing our suppliers globally. The new model was implemented in the fall of 2019 and it includes all the new suppliers. During 2020, the assessment model will be expanded to also include existing suppliers. The assessment has four different categories: quality, sustainability, business/strategic criticality and safety at work.
All new critical suppliers must respond to the Sustainability Self-Assessment Questionnaire, and a risk mitigation plan is created according to the assessment result.