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The BMW X5 is a thoughtfully designed luxury SUV that’s hitting the road with a brand-new innovation in sustainability. Legendary tire maker Pirelli has launched an eco-friendly tire line, and the X5 is the first production car to hit the road on them. Green initiatives will only increase over time, and BMW is joining the trend. What sets these tires apart, and why did BMW choose them for the 2021 X5? The answer is a shared vision for the future.

A row of Pirelli racing tires, each with a brightly colored stripe
Pirelli Tires | Mark Thompson via Getty Images

Pirelli changes the game, this time with eco-friendly tires

The name Pirelli is ubiquitous with performance tires and innovation. The company could easily be called one of the first lifestyle brands. More than a century ago, Pirelli employed artists to create innovative visual advertising. These ads used elegant and highly stylized images to captivate customer’s attention. These ads helped usher in a new era in branding and remain some of the most iconic images in automotive marketing history. 3

Pirelli began its life as a rubber processor and SCUBA equipment manufacturer. The company evolved into a telegraph cable manufacturing then bicycle tires before it ever made its first automotive tire. The first Pirelli tires were not the high-performance versions the brand is known for today. Pirelli made tires for street use first.

Pirelli has become the first company to produce Forest Stewardship Council certified tires in its most recent innovation. The Forest Stewardship Council certifies products that are sourced from carefully managed forests. These forests must be cultivated and harvested in ways that provide environmental benefits and contribute to local economies.

The BMW X5

A purple 2021 BMW X5 luxury SUV on display
2021 BMW X5 | Ji Haixin/VCG via Getty Images

This pairing between BMW and Pirelli makes sense. According to Standard & Poor’s 2019 report, Pirelli is ranked as the most eco-friendly tire producer. BMW is the world’s second most sustainable automaker, beaten only by Audi. The similarities between the two brands don’t end there.

Both brands have shaken things up since the beginning. Pirelli is known for innovation across several markets. BMW has been changing the landscape of the automotive industry since its launch. Both companies have a proven track record of innovation in sustainability. The 2021 BMW 5X will be the first production car to hit the street with sustainably sourced tires. This may be the first of many eco-conscious projects between the two brands.

How nature produces a performance tire

Sunlight passing through coniferous trees in a thick forrest
conifer trees | Claire Gillo/PhotoPlus Magazine/Future via Getty Images

Southeast Asia is heavily planted with latex-producing forests. The industry has been heavily criticized for its environmental impact and employment practices. Many companies and organizations are pushing back against unethical rubber production. Pirelli is one of many manufacturers seeking out sustainable materials.

Not only is Pirelli setting higher standards for the source of its materials, but it’s improving the health of tires from the ground up. Modern tires are typically made from more synthetic rubber than natural. On average, tires are around 25% synthetic materials. Pirelli aims to increase the organic content of its products to 65%.

These changes are welcome news to conservationists who have long warned of the impact tires have on the planet. The production of synthetic rubber can contribute to groundwater contamination as well as air pollution. Tires also make up a large percentage of non-biodegradable waste. Nearly 16% of all tires produced end up in landfills, where it can take hundreds of years for them to decompose. Tires even contribute to plastic waste in oceans.


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