Size Matters

The Fair Rubber Association is sometimes asked, why the share of Fairly Traded rubber is so small. There are a number of key reasons. One is, that natural rub-ber can, to some extent, be substituted for by synthetic rubber (which is made from petroleum). And if petroleum is cheap – as it is nowadays, why use natural rubber if you can avoid it. The second key reason is that 70% of all natural rubber goes into tyres for cars: The tyre makers blame the car makers for not willing to pay more, the car makers blame the tyre makers for not investing in sustainability. Another 20% of rubber produced goes into conveyor belts (think fulfilment centres, airport belts, agricultural machinery): While almost ubiquitous and often a key component, rubber simply is not ‘visible’, it is just one of many components, and out of sight By contrast, Fair Trade as a concept relies on consumers having a choice between product A (Fairly Traded) and product B (conventional). As far as rubber is concerned, this condition is mostly limited to so called ‘dipped’ items (condoms, household gloves, …) or small consumer products (hot water bottles). But maybe with the current crisis there will be a rethink in line with the opinion by the two rubber traders quoted on page one?