Natural Rubber

Sustainable Rubber

Natural rubber is a globally traded raw material used in numerous products. The most important customer is the automotive industry. Approximately 70 percent of the world's natural rubber ends up in car tires.

In the past, natural rubber obtained from trees was the only source of rubber products. Synthetic rubber has been an fossil-based alternative since 1900. Nevertheless, natural rubber still plays a decisive role in the industry due to its special properties.

Natural rubber grows in the rubber belt. This refers to the equatorial regions around the world, which fulfil similar growing conditions as Brazil, the country of origin. Today, more than 90 percent of the world's rubber comes from Southeast Asia.


Countries that grow Natural Rubber (Source: Wikipedia)

But the cultivation of rubber has social, economic and ecological consequences as:

Social Risks

  • Landgrabbing (for example in Laos, Cambodia)
  • Child Labour (for example in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar)
  • Forced Labour (Myanmar)
  • Low Salarys
  • Health of workers due to exposure to chemicals
  • Health of end-consumers (Latex allergy)

Ecological Risks

  • Genetic Diversity (Microcyclus ulei)
  • Loss of Habitat for various species
  • Loss of species (due to loss of habitat and others)
  • Erosion (due to vegetation loss)
  • Deforestation, Climate Change
  • Loss of ecosystem services

Economic Risks

  • Profitability of plantations
  • Income for all stakeholders
  • Dependencies on global prices
  • Diversity of products (almost no fair trade/ ecological rubber on the market)

At the same time, however, the cultivation of natural rubber is accompanied by some opportunities. If natural rubber is cultivated in a sustainable way, the cultivation creates jobs, habitats for animals and plants and makes it possible to absorb and store CO2 from the air.

The project "Sustainable cultivation of natural rubber", which runs from 2017 to 2019, addresses this problem by contacting consumers and companies and discussing sustainability aspects. The aim is to sensitise consumers and companies and thus create sustainable supply chains.


In brief: Natural Rubber and Sustainability (Source: Südwind on YouTube)


Stefan Hörmann

Global Nature Fund
 +49 228 184 86 94 11

 German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.

 German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA)
 Produkte aus Naturkautschuk


 Anbau und Verarbeitung von Naturkautschuk

Cultivation and Processing

About the project


Country:   Germany
EBBC Partner:   Global Nature Fund
Other Partners:   Südwind e.V.
Supporter:   German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), German Federal Environmental Agency (UBA)