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Sumitomo Rubber Industries accelerates its journey towards sustainable sourcing of natural rubber

Sustainability has always been more than a mere phrase for Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI). In its continuous effort to responsibly source raw materials, enhance sustainability along the natural rubber supply chain, mitigate risks in upstream processes and expedite the adoption of more sustainable sourcing practices, the company has introduced the environmental and social risk assessment tool, Rubberway.

The global demand for natural rubber – driven by population growth and the evolution of mobility solutions – has necessitated a responsible approach to the procurement of its raw materials. With concerns such as deforestation stemming from farm expansion, as well as labour and human rights issues, SRI recognises the urgency of proactively addressing these challenges.

Leading the charge for sustainable natural rubber sourcing is Sumitomo Rubber Singapore Pte. Ltd. By introducing Rubberway, SRI hopes the technology will revolutionise the way it sources natural rubber – strengthening its commitment to sustainable practices by flagging risks for mitigation, at each level of the upstream supply chain. It also SRI to ensure it is procuring from areas compliant with GPSNR (Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber) standards.

Rubberway works by leveraging statistical analysis from a wealth of data – gathered via questionnaires from each level of the supply chain, such as processing factories, intermediaries, smallholders and large plantations. The results are then used to evaluate the environmental and social implications associated with natural rubber production. The assessment covers – but is not limited to – deforestation, water resource management, forced labour and child labour in 10 natural rubber producing countries.

Furthermore, the tool aligns with SRI’s long-term sustainability policy, ‘Driving Our Future Challenge 2050’, which seeks to enhance traceability and support smallholders during the purchase of raw materials, in accordance with the Sustainable Natural Rubber Policy.

This commitment is further exemplified by ongoing initiatives within SRI which emphasise collaboration amongst all stakeholders – including those within the supply chain – with a vision of fostering a sustainable natural rubber community.

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