Bridgestone Americas (Bridgestone) is taking a pivotal next step in its drive to commercialise the woody desert shrub, guayule, as a domestic source of natural rubber, and as a more environmentally sustainable crop in America’s drought-stricken desert southwest.
Bridgestone plans to invest an additional $42 million to establish commercial operations, with additional investment and expansion planned toward 2030. The company with 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 guayule at scale. Bridgestone is targeting sustainable commercial production of guayule-derived natural rubber by the end of the decade.
“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. We’re thrilled to be taking this major step toward commercialization before the end of the decade,” said 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 and Bridgestone
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. Bridgestone has invested more than $100 million in its efforts to commercialize guayule, achieving major milestones such as producing the first tire made from guayule-derived natural rubber in 2015, and continued expansion of its guayule molecular breeding program. Bridgestone is also the recipient of multiple U.S. government research grants for guayule research and development, including from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (July 2017) and from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Joint Genome Institute (September 2021).