Earlier this year we held a meeting looking at how we can improve practices in the rubber industry
We would like to thank all participants to our first lab on the sourcing of responsible natural rubber, which was held earlier this year in Brussels. We had representatives from leading brands, rubber manufacturers, traders and producers attend. The aim was to share lessons learned in the sector and brainstorm solutions to the challenges faced in transforming the industry to use better practices.
Thailand and Indonesia are the world’s biggest growers of rubber trees, which is used to make latex and then made into all sorts of products, like condoms and car tyres. The vast majority of global production is from smallholder farmers, who tend to rely on rubber as their main source of income. The main issues in the sector are low prices, which subsequently impacts the livelihood of the farmers. However the industry faces other issues such as deforestation and destruction of key habitats, as well as no respect of labour rights in some areas.
Having got so many major rubber players together we would now like to have further and more specific sessions focused on achieving responsible natural rubber, like:
Defining sustainable natural rubber – what does it mean?
What are expectations, as well as requirements for suppliers?
What approach is best in order transform the industry?
How do we best verify and demonstrate policy implementation?
A growing number of companies have developed dashboards, which give insight and information in how they are implementing their policies to protect nature and the people living and working in it. Such dashboards feature grievance mechanisms that allow specific topics to be raised. Often the growers are the most reluctant to be transparent and introduction of dashboards has been really beneficial for them in terms of reducing the pressure from various stakeholders.
But it’s clear more transparency within the industry is needed in order to make progress and address the priorities. We look forward to updating you further on our rubber work throughout the year.