GRI announced it is the new silver sponsor of the World Rubber Summit 2018, a premier event held annually by The International Rubber Study Group (IRSG), this year in collaboration with the Ministry of Plantation Industries of the Government of Sri Lanka. This year’s event was held May 7-8, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
“Taking into consideration that we are a Sri Lankan company, we perceive the World Rubber Summit to be an exclusive opportunity for the worldwide rubber industry to discuss the current challenges the industry is facing, along with future opportunities and most of all about how we can work in unison to advance this industry,” said Asela Gunawardena, sales and marketing director, GRI.
GRI Founder and Managing Director Prabhash Subasinghe, also the re-elected chairman of The Sri Lanka Association of Manufacturers and Exporters of Rubber Products (SLAMERP), addressed the audience of the World Rubber Summit. He chaired the session on “The Sustainable Growth Path for the Rubber Industry” and what fast-growing economies can offer.
He brought focus to the growing need for the steady supply of natural rubber. In 2016, studies showed a gap of 200,000 tons between supply and demand.
Subasinghe also focused on the need for sustainability of the workforce, and the importance of direct commitment and investment in upskilling the labor force. Rubber is a $30 billion cash crop, and global consumption is expected to reach 19.4 million tons by 2020, hence there is little to no probability that the consumption and demand for natural rubber will decrease, now or in the foreseeable future, says Subashinghe.
Furthermore, he says, there is no long-term substitute for natural rubber. It is claimed that synthetic rubber can be utilized in its place. This, however, will not prove to be a long-term alternative as synthetic rubber is produced using petroleum-based materials and have some detrimental effects to the environment, including the depletion of the Earth’s natural resources.
The Sri Lankan rubber industry has made a tremendous contribution to the country since its inception in 1876 and is a pioneer in the natural rubber industry in Asia. As of now, Sri Lankan natural rubber has become an industrial raw material with global significance, its economic benefit has been important in attracting investment, job creation and raising foreign exchange earnings.
“Since its inception in 2002, GRI has worked to bring progress and development to its local community and the country,” said Subasinghe. On Jan. 25, GRI opened the doors to a world-class specialty tire manufacturing facility that will produce radial agriculture tires for the first time in the country, thereby effectively enhancing the Sri Lanka’s export portfolio and aiding in the development of the nation. This new factory will comprise of approximately 70 percent of agriculture tire products and the remaining output will consist of pneumatic construction tires and forklift tires.
With an investment of more than $40 million, GRI’s tire plant is a first in many respects. It is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and many of the machines are the first of their kind to be commissioned in Sri Lanka. The team at GRI has utilized some of the most advanced technologies available with globally recognized machines that allow for an increased degree of precision and much greater automation. These factors continue to drive GRI forward and will result greater efficiency, reduced cycle times and energy wastage.
The new factory also is completely self-sufficient and is certified by ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004 an Environmental Management System (EMS) certification stating a set of processes and practices that enables an organization to reduce its environmental impacts and increase its operating efficiency. GRI’s commitment to sustainability also is evident throughout in its 1.2-megawatt solar panels, biomass boilers and fully recyclable waste and water management systems. This plant is a testament to the pioneering spirit and values embodied by all at GRI, the company adds.
When asked for his views on the Sri Lanka rubber industry, Subasinghe had this is say, “Today, the country is recognized as the world’s leading solid tire exporter with over 60 percent of global market share. The center of gravity of the rubber industry has shifted steadily from growing rubber to value added product manufacturing, this indicates an exceptional promise and a bright future for the rubber industry in Sri Lanka and is undeniably a positive development.”
Sri Lanka is the world’s sixth largest rubber exporter and eighth largest natural rubber producing country in the world, more than 70 percent of global rubber production is accredited to the tire industry.
The turnover of Sri Lanka’s rubber industry today stands at $1 billion, with the rubber industry playing the part of a vital contributor to our national economy, all while being an environmentally sustainable industry that assists hundreds of thousands of rubber producers.