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FSC Master Class #3: New Market Potentials from Forests — Sustainable Natural Rubber

What role can natural rubber play?

Forests provide us with not only wood but also lots of resources. Scores of tangible and intangible materials such as bamboo, rattan, and even medicinal plants are coming from there — did you know that approximately 10% of today’s drugs derive from tropical medicinal plants and healthy forests are crucial to support clean water? In this master class series, we want to look into one of the best sustainable resources in the world — natural rubber.

The fight on plastic, particularly on the single-used type, has been around for decades but not until the airing of Blue Planet II that put the issue under the limelight. That’s when natural rubber comes in the picture because of its natural and biodegradable nature. By a process called tapping, latex is drawn by cutting into the bark of rubber trees, milky sap which can be processed into the form of chunks, sheets and strings for further manufacturing.

Being biodegradable means that natural rubber can decompose naturally, and won’t leave toxic burden after its lifecycle. On average rubber tree has about 10 years of tapping age. But again, it is only a sustainable choice and renewable resources if it is coming from responsibly-managed forests.

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This is where FSC comes in: we see natural rubber and other sustainable resources as promising growth sectors, and the FSC certification can provide assurance that these products are sourced from responsibly managed and environmentally-friendly forests. As a capacity builder who works with our partners in raising awareness for responsible forestry, FSC improves livelihoods of others and the environment through better forest management, and in turn, major global companies and businesses now work with FSC to source and promote FSC-certified products, such as natural rubber.

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Market drivers and demand for FSC-certified products also motivate governmental support towards FSC. In 2017, the Thai government made a significant pledge to support smallholder rubber planters as they work to comply with FSC standards. This decision was made after a collective call from various rubber associations, saying that their members have received increasing requests from European buyers to purchase certified latex and natural rubber.

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There is an increasing global request for sustainable alternatives to materials like plastics. With the advancing technology such as combing natural rubber with bioplastic, what solutions can forests provide? As a consumer, you can support the cause by purchasing FSC-certified products. If you’re an FSC Certificate Holder and Promotional License Holder and want to learn more about new market potentials on sustainable resources, sign up to our third FSC Asia Pacific Business Forum 2019, where we will go into more detail on topics like this!

 

 

 

 

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