Our Way to Serve, our global corporate social responsibility commitment, manifests our passion for improving the safety and livelihood of people everywhere. It is a reflection of our founder Shojiro Ishibashi’s philosophy – to “serve society with superior quality” – and is embodied in our Global Sustainable Procurement Policy. Our sustainable procurement initiatives create long-term environmental, social and economic benefits for stakeholders across our supply chain.
FROM SEED TO TIRE
Each and every Bridgestone product has a life cycle.
As we continue to realize Our Way to Serve, we discover ways in which this life cycle can move beyond a beginning and end, into a more cyclical existence that creates added value to our business, reduces impact on the environment, and enhances how we conduct our lives.
BEGIN THE JOURNEY
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
Tires begin in nature. Rubber trees are planted on small farms and large plantations.
- Farming rubber trees employs 6 million smallholder farmers, mostly in Southeast Asia.
- Bridgestone has provided thousands of smallholders with highly productive rubber trees, giving a total of 5.6 million budded stumps to-date.
- Bridgestone helps protect the environment, human rights and labor rights through supplier engagement and its Global Sustainable Procurement Policy.
THE JOURNEY BEGINS
Using a technique passed down through generations, producers tap trees to collect latex.
- Bridgestone provides tools and technical support to improve yields from trees and teaches best practices both for tapping and maintaining quality in raw materials to thousands of smallholders and farmers.
THE TIRE TAKES SHAPE
The harvested latex goes to processing facilities to be turned into blocks of natural rubber.
- Processing employs 150,000 people. We support our processors and expect the highest quality from them. They, in turn, also expect the same from the farmers and producers. This creates an effective supply chain that minimizes waste.
- At our manufacturing facilities we are able to recycle up to 90% of waste. The company's goal is to increase the ratio of recycled and renewable material to 40% by 2030, moving toward 100% sustainable materials over time.
THE TIRE TAKES SHAPE
Bridgestone combines the natural rubber with carbon black and dozens of other materials to create the dark-colored tires we associate with modern mobility.
- Bridgestone was the first to use recycled carbon black and aims to use it in 2 million tires by the end of 2020, which will reduce CO2 emissions by 24 million pounds or nearly 11,000 metric tons.
- A tire is made from a variety of materials such a natural rubber, synthetic rubber, steel cord and carbon black. Carbon black is the component which is needed to facilitate the vulcanization (hardening) process and gives the tire its distinct black color.
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
Bridgestone innovates to extend the life of tires and reuse materials.
- Bridgestone receives tires that customers have properly maintained and retreads them for reuse. In 2019, Bandag dealers produced 6 million retreaded tires in the U.S. and Canada.
- By initially developing durable tires, leveraging digital data to manage their use, and providing appropriate maintenance, it is possible to retread tires several times. This process uses less than one-third of the raw materials needed to make new tires.
- Retreading reduces CO2 emissions and reuses the entire tire casing, a major contribution to resource productivity in a circular economy.
THE JOURNEY FINDS NEW ROADS
New purpose stems from new uses.
- End-of-life passenger, truck and bus radial tires are beneficially recycled and recovered.
- Bridgestone uses 20,000 tons of recycled rubber each year - the equivalent weight of 10,000 large cars.
- We source recycled rubber from end of life tires and also buffing dust from tire retreading.
- Uses include construction materials, such as rubber-modified asphalt, landscaping mulch, floors mats and more.
THE JOURNEY FINDS NEW ROADS
Old tires propel people forward.
- In Indonesia, with partner Soles4Souls Asia, end of life Bridgestone tires are being made into shoes and sandals.
THE JOURNEY FINDS NEW ROADS
- In Australia, Bridgestone is investigating the use of used tires for various rail track components, including ballast and subgrade, for improving the durability of ballasted rail tracks.
THE JOURNEY FINDS NEW ROADS
Redefining "out to pasture".
- In the U.S., Bridgestone has recycled end-of-life, off-road radial tires by converting them into giant watering troughs for cattle and other livestock. Approximately 400 tires were repurposed in 2019.
THE BUSINESS OF RUBBER
The business from natural rubber is reliant on the health and well-being of the natural environment, as well as the people who live in it. As natural rubber is a renewable resource, it has the potential to be produced in more sustainable ways. On-the-ground operations and supply chains both stand to benefit from innovation and advancements that push our industry forward.
The Natural Rubber Economy
The natural rubber economy is massive but fragmented – consisting of many layers of raw material dealers, processing plants, rubber product manufacturers and smallholders. A key ingredient in many products (with nearly 70% going to tire production), natural rubber is mostly grown by farmers in Southeast Asia. But while Southeast Asia represents a significant mass of rubber production, it must be noted that a large portion of that share comes from small and often unsophisticated land holders. Still, each provider is as important to Bridgestone as the next.
Seeding Success to Smallholders
Nearly all of the world’s natural rubber is derived from Hevea brasiliensis, a type of rubber tree found primarily in the rain forests of South America and Southeast Asia. These forests risk depletion, so to offset our footprint in these regions, Bridgestone provides Hevea rubber trees to smallholders in key producing countries, along with technical training and productivity-improvement techniques developed for our own rubber farms. Since 2005, we have provided more than 350,000 saplings to farmers in Indonesia alone. Worldwide to date, we have given 5.6 million budded stumps valued at $2 million. In addition, Bridgestone uses genome data to improve breeding technologies and growing methods for rubber trees to make them more resilient and productive.
Fighting Against Rubber Tree Diseases
In Southeast Asia, where over 90% of the world’s rubber tree plantations are concentrated, white root rot disease is worsening, killing trees by infecting and rotting their roots. It can be difficult to detect, especially in early stages when treatment is more successful. Bridgestone has developed diagnosis techniques for early detection of the disease. Satellite imaging, examining leaf colors and temperatures and DNA testing are but a few examples of how Bridgestone is innovating solutions that fight this risk.
RUBBER GROWING COMMUNITIES
Being respectful of local rubber farmers and smallholders is critical to Our Way to Serve. Bridgestone has instituted a variety of initiatives that put local people first. These initiatives help to meet our goals while protecting the places and people we rely on, responsibly and sustainably sourcing natural rubber in the interest of protecting the environment while creating value for the livelihoods and communities where we invest.
A STEP AHEAD
Bridgestone aspires to offer the best for its customers and to society, not only in terms of products and services, but in all its corporate activities. Our commitment to quality stems not only from profit, but from our passion to improve the safety and lives of people everywhere. Through our mission, “serving society with superior quality,” Bridgestone strives to be a company trusted by the world. With our partners, we are proud to forge policy in global sustainability procurement that fosters a future for sustainable business growth while promoting the respect and preservation of human rights.
Read about our recent environmental achievements and our goals for the future in our 2019-2020 Sustainability Report.
OUR GLOBAL SUSTAINABLE PROCUREMENT POLICY
Bridgestone is committed to continually working toward a more sustainable society to realize long-term environmental, social, and economic benefits across our entire supply chain. Since the initial release of our first Global Sustainable Procurement Policy in 2018, we have built upon its strong foundation and released the second version on September 28, 2021, which focuses significantly on the revision process to the natural rubber supply, while continuing to align with our environmental commitments. Most notably, our updated Global Procurement Policy further refines expectations of our natural rubber supply chain partners to align with the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR) Policy Framework. As a founding member and Executive Committee member of the GPSNR, the Global Sustainable Procurement Policy serves as a communication and improvement tool for suppliers, Bridgestone procurement personnel, and other stakeholders that sets expectations for responsible and sustainable business conduct.
Leading in the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber
Bridgestone and other peer global tire companies launched the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR) to transform the natural rubber supply chain for the better. Through industry collaboration, Bridgestone, other tire companies, rubber suppliers, automakers, NGOs and smallholder rubber producers are working together to improve respect for human rights, prevent land-grabbing and deforestation, protect biodiversity and water resources, improve yields and increase supply chain transparency and traceability.
GPSNR commits to lead improvements in the socioeconomic and environmental performance of the natural rubber value chain that are fair, equitable and environmentally sound.
Ensuring relevant representation of smallholders within the GPSNR governance is a priority. A dedicated working group has been established to coordinate actions to identify and secure adequate smallholder representation within GPSNR.
GPSNR will work to harmonize standards to improve respect for human rights, prevent land-grabbing and deforestation, protect biodiversity and water resources, improve yields, and increase supply chain transparency and traceability.
GPSNR is guided by 12 Principles: Forest sustainability, Water management, Land rights (FPIC), Labor rights, Human rights, Equity Traceability, Transparent reporting, Anti-corruption, Grievance mechanism, Auditing protocols, Training & Education.
Engagement through EcoVadis
Bridgestone is using external platform EcoVadis as a tool for policy implementation and compliance monitoring. EcoVadis enables monitoring and rating the environmental, social and ethical performance of our suppliers to help identify and evaluate qualified suppliers, promote best practices, and serve as a communication and improvement tool for the industry overall. As of March 2019, acknowledgement of the policy had been completed by 100% (~1,600) of the company's Tier 1 tire material suppliers. As of March 2020, 48% of Tier 1 tire material suppliers completed the third-party assessment with EcoVadis. Of suppliers who were reviewed, 55% confirmed compliance with Bridgestone sustainable procurement practices.
EcoVadis has awarded Bridgestone Europe the Gold rating in corporate social responsibility (CSR).
SEAL Business Sustainability Awards
Announced on Feb 12, 2020 the SEAL Business Sustainability Awards honored Bridgestone with the Sustainability Leadership Award "celebrating [its] leadership, transparency, and commitment to sustainable business practices." This award honors specific environmental and sustainability initiatives. Key criteria for selection included: Impact Metrics, Innovation, Sharing of Insights, and Investment Levels.