Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Lime’s path toward a more sustainable, equitable tire supply
Beyond operating a 100% electric multi-modal fleet, the other thing that unites all of Lime’s shared products is what connects you and our vehicles to the road: rubber tires.
According to the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber, Every year 14 million tonnes of rubber are produced globally, of which 85% is produced by smallholders. The majority of the world’s rubber (70%) goes to the tire industry. Surging demand and a highly labor intensive process can decimate endangered forests and contribute to human rights abuses like long hours, loss of customary forest access and land grabbing, among others.
Unsustainable and illegal rubber production is one of the top threats to many Southeast Asian forests, the region where 90% of the world’s natural rubber is sourced, according to the WWF.
That is why we’re making a new commitment to more sustainable and socially responsible rubber tire procurement.
We’re proud to announce that we’ve today joined the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR), committing to new standards for fairer, more equitable and environmentally sound rubber supply. This new global framework includes strong commitments as well as the development of time-based targets for more sustainable practices. Signatories include land owners, producers, tire makers, civil society (including our global partners at WWF) and end users like Lime.
Modeled around the GPSNR’s 12 Principles of Sustainable Natural Rubber, the policy framework includes commitments to legal compliance, community livelihoods, healthy, functioning ecosystems (including no deforestation), and respecting human rights. Lime, along with other members of the framework, will be independently reviewed by GPSNR for its commitment to these sustainable practices aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The framework requires annual progress reporting and transparency.
In addition to ensuring more sustainable and socially responsible sourcing, we’d like to simply source less. We’re continuing our journey toward more circular tire procurement by:
- Pursuing second life, recycled rubber for our tire supply - In addition to a more sustainable supply of rubber, we’d rather not use new rubber all together. This is why we are engaging in end users and manufacturers to find a reliable supply of recycled rubber, which can be safely fabracted for our tires.
- Finding second (or third, once we achieve the above) uses for our end of life tires - While our tires are an incredibly durable component of our fleet, after their useful life, there are ample opportunities for tires to have productive uses even before recycling. Today, Lime tires are being used for playgrounds and other rubberized surfaces and as we continue to search for valuable partnerships for all our end of life tires as an alternative to recycling. We’re committed to finding 100% second life uses by the end of 2022 for our tires.
“The global rubber industry is fraught with issues of illegal harvesting, ecosystem degradation from poor forest practices, and human and gender rights abuses,” said Andrew Savage, Head of Sustainability at Lime. “At Lime, it’s vital to our mission that we source the raw materials for our vehicles sustainably and in a way that respects human rights and the natural environment. If micromobility is to truly become the urban mobility option of the future, it must do so without causing harm or disruption. We’re honored to join the GPSNR and commit to a better way of sourcing rubber.”
Through this new framework, we seek to enhance the sustainability and social justice of our procurement as well as move the mobility industry forward -- micromobility and beyond. As micromobility outpaces auto production, we invite the rest of the micromobility industry to join us in this quest. “With millions of shared vehicles poised to be manufactured and take the streets of cities around the world, our small vehicles can have a big impact, collectively moving the needle on the global transportation industry’s rubber practices,” added Savage.
“Lime’s participation broadens the list of stakeholders who have committed to define and implement a sustainable natural rubber value chain. While GPSNR members already represent about 50% of the global natural rubber market, Lime is the framework’s first member from the micromobility industry,” said GPSNR Platform Director Stefano Savi. ‘’This will bring fresh perspectives to a platform dedicated to defining what sustainability should mean in the rubber industry.’’
“Micromobility has the opportunity to lead the transportation industry toward a more sustainable supply chain, including in rubber tires,” said Carol Browner, Lime advisor, former administrator to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and White House climate advisor. “As Lime embarks on its commitment to a net zero business by 2030, there are exciting, innovative, and impactful opportunities to improve the product’s sustainability along the way.”
When we think about the sustainability of our products and service, we think up and down about their life cycle and our operations. It’s why, in our first sustainability commitment back in 2018, we decided every Lime vehicle would be charged on renewable energy. It was a first-of-its-kind commitment in the micromobility industry, but our work didn’t stop there.
From setting one of the most ambitious Net Zero targets in the corporate sector (by 2030) to electrifying our operations and finding creative second life uses for our batteries, we’re committed to a journey of continuous and relentless improvement. It’s a journey that has no finish line-- or trip-end-- for us.