In Arizona, tire major Bridgestone has announced it will invest another $42 million—on top of the over $100 million it has already spent—to commercialize natural rubber from the guayule desert shrub by 2030 and achieve 100% renewable tires by 2050.
The funds will establish planting and harvesting guayule at scale. Bridgestone will also collaborate and partner with local U.S. farmers and Native American tribes to increase capacity of up to 25,000 additional acres of farmland for planting and harvesting activities.
“We’re extremely bullish on the potential for guayule as a domestic source of strategically critical materials, such as rubber, hypoallergenic latex, building material adhesives and renewable fuel, just to name a few,” says Nizar Trigui, Chief Technology Officer and Group President, Solutions Businesses, Bridgestone Americas, Inc. “With guayule, we can reduce the environmental impacts that come with overseas sourcing while also realizing a more sustainable agricultural system for parts of this country that are facing persistent and worsening climate conditions, so it’s really something with many benefits for our environment and our economy.”
Guayule is a heat tolerant, woody shrub that thrives in desert settings, particularly in America’s desert southwest. The shrub can be farmed with existing row-crop equipment, saving costs for farmers, and requires as little as half the water to grow as existing crops, such as cotton and alfalfa.
Bridgestone launched its guayule research initiative in 2012, when it broke ground on a processing and research center in Mesa, Arizona. Today, the company operates the research center in Mesa and a 281-acre guayule farm in Eloy, Arizona.