Doing business sustainably while protecting biodiversity

Michelin, like all businesses, depends on biodiversity and ecosystem services for our continued success. This is why the Group starts analyzing the environmental impacts of our products in the design stage, which then continues through R&D to guide our choice of materials, architecture, and manufacturing processes. We also aim to improve the environmental performance of our production sites and foster a sustainable rubber tree industry. In 2018, the Group put our biodiversity commitments in writing by joining the act4nature international initiative launched by the French organization Entreprises pour l'Environnement (EpE - Companies for the Environment). For the first time, more than 60 business leaders signed a charter with 10 shared commitments and individual pledges specific to each company.

Further reading 

Questions for

photo Nicolas Beaumont2

Businesses also have an important role to play in biodiversity protection. Why?

All businesses depend on the free services nature provides to carry out their work sustainably. Also called "ecosystem services," these services include pollination, climate and extreme weather regulation, as well as the provision of the water and raw materials needed to produce products. Businesses have a very important role to play in biodiversity protection. They are responsible for assessing the impacts of their work on biodiversity and ecosystems and implementing the actions needed to avoid these impacts in the first place. When that's not possible, they need to minimize their impact and restore degraded ecosystems.

For example, Michelin is a major consumer of natural rubber, which we use to manufacture our products. If the balance in the ecosystem around rubber trees is disrupted, new diseases may appear that could affect the yield of these plantations. In the long term, this can threaten the supply of this raw material.

To avoid this scenario, Michelin implemented a sustainable natural rubber policy, participated in the creation of the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR), and is working to develop a sustainable rubber industry by setting a "zero deforestation" target in our manufacturing, with the help of NGOs and local communities.

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    In 2018, Michelin made some commitments through act4nature international. Two years later, what are the results? Are you satisfied?

    The overall results are quite positive because most of our objectives have been reached, particularly in research and development, production and research sites, and raw materials. Unfortunately, due to COVID we had to postpone our audits of the sites and the implementation of Rubberway in the field because the presence of our employees and direct contact with natural rubber suppliers was critical.  

    The creation of a multidisciplinary operational committee focused on biodiversity in 2018 allowed us to draft our 2020 commitments and work on the Group's biodiversity vision for 2030. The roadmap for this vision was approved by the Group's Environmental Governance. But we didn't do it alone. We worked with external stakeholders and partners to identify avenues for progress, explore and develop assessment tools, and create the action plan.


    Among the Group's many projects, which one are you most proud of?


    We're most proud that we were able to involve various departments throughout the value chain. These include R&D, development, raw materials purchasing, and research and production sites. As a result, we have developed major research and biodiversity conservation projects throughout the world, thanks to our network of natural rubber properties and our research and production sites. 

    For example, the Group created the Michelin Ecological Reserve in Bahia, Brazil. It covers more than 3,000 hectares and is one of the most well-protected areas in the Atlantic Forest. Since its creation, Michelin has sponsored 110 research projects on new varieties of rubber trees and various species of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, plants, and fungi. This reserve is now a unique biodiversity refuge, with more than 2,000 species identified, including 16 newly discovered species. At the Ladoux research site in France, Michelin signed an agreement with the Conservatoire d'Espaces Naturels d'Auvergne (Auvergne Region Natural Spaces Conservatory) in July 2011 to protect a 3.5-hectare zone that features salt meadows. These continental salt meadows are quite rare in Europe, so their conservation is a priority.


    What are the key success factors for protecting biodiversity?

    First of all, we need to identify which of the company's activities have the greatest impact on biodiversity. Then we have to look at where these impacts occur because biodiversity is primarily a local issue. The second factor is measuring our impact since this is the only way to know whether the objectives we set and actions we take are actually working. However, this is the hardest to do because tools that companies can use to measure their footprint are still under development. This is why we're working with our partners, and particularly WWF, to explore, develop, and test new tools that will soon allow us to evaluate the Group's biodiversity footprint.   In the meantime, we must take action and commit to protecting biodiversity right now. The latest scientific reports show that biodiversity erosion is so severe that we can't wait until we have the tools to start taking action. It's also important to have an open dialog with all stakeholders, such as local communities, suppliers, NGOs, and customers because we must build the necessary partnerships to achieve our objectives.


    What are your longer-term ambitions?

    Our long-term goal is to more effectively measure and reduce the Group's footprint to contribute to the global biodiversity targets that will be set at the COP 15 in 2021. Our 2021-2030 biodiversity vision is now ready and includes new commitments through act4nature international that will be shared in the first quarter of 2021.


A detailed overview of Michelin's commitments to biodiversity

Objectives postponed: the COVID-19 sanitary crisis prevented new suppliers to operate and no survey could be carried out due to the lockdown period and closure of borders.


Further reading

Active involvement in R&D


Many actions on the ground


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