Introducing PROJECT TREE for a More Sustainable Natural Rubber Future

Jack Dreyer | Friday 17th December 2021 4:43pm

Project Tree Rubber Tapping

In the modern world we are more reliant on tyres than ever. By the end of 2020 there were 32,697,408 cars licensed in the UK, a 42.5% increase on the figures from 25 years prior, and trends suggest that this figure is likely to keep on rising with tyre usage increasing alongside it.

With increased tyre usage comes an increased demand for both natural and synthetic rubber, which in turn brings its own complications, with both environmental and humanitarian implications. That’s why we, at Kwik Fit, are delighted to announce our participation in PROJECT TREE (Transparent Rubber Ecosystem for Earth): a new initiative to help provide a more sustainable supply chain for tyre production.

What is a Tyre made of?

Tyres are made using a variety of different processes and up to 200 raw materials, including natural rubber, synthetic rubber, steel, and silica.

Approximately 19% of a car tyre is made up from natural rubber, which is farmed by tapping rubber trees. Over time this has put increasing pressure on rubber tree yields in Asia, where 90% of the world’s natural rubber comes from.

Natural Rubber Supply Issues

The increased demand for natural rubber has had a huge impact on those who produce it, while? output has dropped in recent years due to a number of factors:

  • Market cost has dropped below the cost incurred by farmers
  • Very low profit potential and wages
  • Reduced yields per hectare due to unsustainable farming practices

In nations such as Indonesia, where large amounts of natural rubber are produced, this has led to huge deforestation as well as illegal farming practices. This is where PROJECT TREE aims to help.

How does PROJECT TREE help?

With the demand for natural rubber only projected to increase it is clear something needs to be done urgently. Working closely with key stakeholders throughout the entire supply chain, PROJECT TREE uses blockchain technology to revolutionise traceability in the natural rubber supply chain with an approach that is both fairer to stakeholders and more sustainable for the environment. PROJECT TREE’s key goals include;

  • Increase the long term sustainability of the natural rubber industry in Sumatra (Indonesia)
  • Educate and reward ecologically friendly farming practices aligned with improved traceability of supply to the tyre industry
  • Reduce illegal deforestation and improve the livelihoods of producers

PROJECT TREE’s Traceability System

Technological advances have enabled PROJECT TREE to develop a sophisticated traceability system that will help to tackle certain issues in the rubber industry, including illegal logging and rights violations against local communities and farmers.

The traceability system, which has been built in partnership with multiple stakeholders, utilises blockchain technology to allow mutual authentication via smartphone or web applications. This authentication provides proof of details such as dates, times and geolocation data to ensure transparency throughout the entire supply chain – all the way from the farm to the processing plant and indirectly helps protecting conservation areas and wildlife.

Not only will PROJECT TREE allow for more transparency but it will also allow to pay incentives to farmers and small businesses that record transactions. Incentives are paid either in cash or through education and or access to supplies and better equipment (better agricultural practices training or provision of supplies such as farm equipment and fertilizers).

How can you help to support PROJECT TREE?

If you want to help us in our mission to improve conditions across the natural rubber supply chain, make sure to keep an eye out for tyres that ’Support PROJECT TREE’ next time you need a replacement. There are currently 10 products supporting PROJECT TREE and we are looking to add many more tyres to this collection.

Look out for the PROJECT TREE banner next time you are searching for tyres online, or ask one of our tyre experts at your local centre.

Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.

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