Fair Rubber: A visit to the rubber tappers in Sumatra

Archives of Press Releases of Global Nature Fund

Fair Rubber: A visit to the rubber tappers in Sumatra

From bicycle tires to condoms - natural rubber is found in many everyday products. However, this rubber is often obtained under difficult social and ecological conditions. The Fair Rubber Association, run by Global Nature Fund, campaigns for fair prices and environmentally friendly conditions in the countries where the rubber is grown. On behalf of Fair Rubber, GNF Managing Director Stefan Hörmann traveled to Sumatra in December 2023 to visit the rubber tappers.

23-year-old Dedi Nardiansyah starts carving the trunks of the rubber trees with his knife at four in the morning. This causes the latex sap to flow slowly into the small containers that the tapper has attached to the trees. By eleven o'clock, he empties the containers and takes the rubber mass to a collection point. There it is weighed and sold to middlemen. The father of the family receives around EUR 90 per month. Another EUR 30 is added on top. He earns this by working on a palm oil plantation in the afternoons. He says he needs at least EUR 180 a month to make ends meet with his wife and young son.

Significant improvement
The conditions for Dedi will improve significantly in the coming year. From January 2024, bicycle tire manufacturer Schwalbe will be sourcing rubber from him and other tappers in Sumatra. The company will pay a surcharge of 0.50 cents per kilo of dry rubber. The tappers thus generate almost twice as much income as without the premium. Dedi and his colleagues will decide together how to use the premium. They have set up a cooperative for this purpose and will produce the rubber in accordance with the sustainability criteria of the Fair Rubber Seal from January. "School uniforms, exercise books and books for our children are expensive," says Dedi, "organic fertilizer would also help us to achieve higher crop yields."

Look for the Fair Rubber Seal when shopping
By purchasing rubber products with the Fair Rubber Seal, consumers can contribute to improving living and environmental conditions in rubber-growing regions. In India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand, several thousand tappers and small farmers are already benefiting from fair trade in rubber.

The website of the Fair Rubber Association provides an overview of fair trade products for household, garden, bathroom, sport and leisure. Rubber gloves, flip flops, mattresses or plant pots - the items can be purchased locally or online from the manufacturers and retailers. If you shop on Amazon, you can find the products here via the Amazon Climate Pledge Friendly label.
Picture: Martin Kunz