From tyres to mobility solutions, Bridgestone aims to help people all over the world improve the way they move, live, work and play. Learn more about how Bridgestone’s partnership with MMARTINYCA pays homage to both companies’ heritage while promoting sustainable practices.
What does the world’s largest tyre and rubber company have in common with a Spanish start-up specialising in footwear? A lot more than one may think. MMARTINYCA teamed up with Bridgestone to launch its Abarca sandals made of 100 percent recycled Bridgestone tyres, and even brought Bridgestone back to its early days as a company.
For Bridgestone’s founder, Shojiro Ishibashi, shoes came long before tyres – they were the family business. Upon taking over that business at age 17, Ishibashi patented the Jika-tabi – a rubber-soled sock – which proved hugely successful amongst workers in his native Japan. But Ishibashi had bigger plans. Using funds from the project and business acumen, he pioneered the tyre industry in Japan by creating the Bridgestone Tyre & Rubber Company. Now, more than 100 years later, the tyre brand is revisiting its roots through the partnership with MMARTINYCA.
Like Bridgestone, MMARTINYCA is also returning to a heritage of sorts with the Abarca project. Nineteenth-century Menorcan fishermen originally wore the sandals, and MMARTINYCA is reviving this ancient tradition in production as well as design. All the Abarca sandals are handmade exclusively on the Isle of Menorca using the traditional techniques first developed in the 1800s. But the project isn’t just about keeping heritage and craft alive. “When MMARTINYCA contacted us to discuss the project, we were incredibly excited because it brought together so many things that are relevant to us as a company – from environmental sustainability to supporting communities,” says Constanza Pasqual, PR and Communications Manager for the South West Region, Bridgestone EMEA.
With this project, MMARTINYCA’s mission is to enhance the lives of African children at risk of social exclusion. To do this, the proceeds from the Abarca sandals with Bridgestone’s soles will go to building the first-ever basketball courts in the Sahara desert. This end-goal is particularly personal to MMARTINYCA’s CEO and former basketball player, María Martínez. “I’ve seen the impact sport can have in keeping children off the streets, creating social links and helping them understand that they can overcome obstacles. Kids born in the Sahara can rarely benefit from these opportunities,” she says.
The organisation also spotlights using sustainable production practices to create its sandals, as every shoe produced will use one non-biodegradable Bridgestone tyre for the sole. Working towards creating a more sustainable society is also part of Bridgestone's CSR strategy, "Our Way to Serve." As the world’s largest tyre and rubber company, Bridgestone is determined to use its platform and capabilities to benefit people and communities around the world. Bridgestone is equally concerned with ensuring a healthy environment for current and future generations, and finding a second life for used tyres plays a huge role in supporting this mission.
At Bridgestone, we take great care in doing our best as a company to reduce our carbon footprint. Ensuring that our products are recycled is one of the key ways we are achieving that,” says Pasqual. In providing the soles for shoes, retired Bridgestone tyres found new life through the Abarca project – and they are perfect for the job.
The Abarca project was first launched on crowdfunding site Kickstarter and exceeded all expectations by raising over five times the original goal. After completing its three-month Kickstarter campaign and raising enough capital to go into production, the project now continues on another crowdfunding site, Indiegogo.
Back in 2015, when Bridgestone EMIA was first assessed by EcoVadis, the globally-recognised provider of business sustainability ratings, we were awarded a Silver rating and ranked in the top 12 percent of businesses globally that manufacture rubber products.
In 2018, we announced that three of our tyre plants in Spain – Bilbao, Puente San Miguel and Burgos – had begun sourcing 100 per cent of their electricity from renewable sources.