Discover how PEFC is bridging the supply and demand gap for sustainable natural rubber
11 November 2021 Driving innovation
Demand for natural rubber, valued for its superior functionality and durability, is expected to grow through 2028. With that has come increased interest in certified, sustainable natural rubber. Today, new supply is poised to meet that growing demand.
2021 has been a year of game-changing breakthroughs for the global rubber value chain. From the swift rebound in China’s tyre manufacturing, to the need for medical supplies during the pandemic, demand for natural rubber has soared and prices have increased. In 2021, the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) forecasts a 7% increase in worldwide demand for natural rubber.
With this growing demand has come increased interest among buyers and manufacturers in rubber that is produced sustainably. Despite years of steady but critical advances toward sustainability in the value chain, world supply of certified rubber has not yet been enough to meet this demand. In fact, supply of all-natural rubber has stagnated, with 2020 seeing the lowest level of replanting in three decades. This is due largely to a lack of capital among smallholders, and cross-border travel restrictions due to the pandemic. The result is a significant imbalance between supply and demand. A common question among buyers seeking certified natural rubber has been: “But where can we find it?”
Today, thanks to the efforts of the Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG), many of these buyers will now have an answer to that question. By the end of 2021 more than 100,000 hectares of rubber plantations in Vietnam expect to receive forest management certification. As this happens, a dozen leading tyre manufacturers, including Apollo, Bridgestone, Goodyear, Michelin, Pirelli, and Yokohama, have announced a commitment towards sustainable natural rubber policies with the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR), of which PEFC is a founding member.
Farther downstream in the supply chain, Weber and Schaer, a 170-year-old German trading firm that distributes rubber and latex materials to a variety of industries including the automotive, adhesives, and medical sectors, has just obtained PEFC chain of custody certification. Unilin, a flooring manufacturer, also has PEFC chain of custody certification for their sustainable rubberwood in 19 factories across Europe and Asia. These companies are among the first movers taking a positive step to improve the sustainability of the value chain, protect the world’s forests, and uplift the livelihoods of millions of rubber smallholders who produce most of the world’s natural rubber.
We are proud to see pilot projects in sustainable rubber across Southeast Asia pay off in such a significant way. Now, as a new supply of sustainable rubber comes online, we are ready to act as a market connector to help bring together the producers of this essential raw material with the many manufacturers looking to buy it.
It is with this aim that we will be holding a webinar on 24 November, titled: ‘Sustainable Rubber: How PEFC connects new supply with growing demand.’ There, we will convene a panel of industry experts and first movers to discuss their successes and lessons learned in obtaining certification. We will be joined by Mr. Hans Evers, the Sustainability Manager for Weber & Schaer, and Mr. Jens Van Rompaey, General Manager of the Wood Division at Unilin.
Just as importantly, the webinar will also serve as a chance for supply chain companies to connect with PEFC, and to get insights into where and how to procure soon-to-be-available supplies of certified sustainable rubber and rubberwood. The event is free with advanced registration, and open to producers, traders, manufacturers, and retailers who work with rubber and rubberwood. Register here.
Join us on 24 November to learn more, to create lasting partnerships with your future suppliers, and to meaningfully enhance the sustainability of your products, and materials.
The webinar takes place 9:00-10:00 CET, 24 November 2021, using Zoom and is free to attend. It will be held in English and translated into Japanese, Thai, Bahasa, and Vietnamese.
Selected speakers will include:
- Hans Evers, Sustainability Manager, Weber & Schaer
- Jens Van Rompaey, General Manager Wood Division, Unilin
- Richard Laity, PEFC Southeast Asia Manager