Natural Rubber In The World

How to Sustainably Manage the Production of Natural Rubber

Why is rubber such an important resource?

Rubber was first used by the Indeginous people of South America almost 4000 years ago. During the time period of 1879 to 1912 was the rubber boom in South America, mainly in the Amazon and throughout Brazil and went through a revival during WWII. Rubber is used to make waterproof shoes, raincoats and erasers in the early 1800's. This is when rubber began to become a popular import in Western Europe. Economy was greatly boosted in South America, as the Madeira-Mamore Railroad was built to transport the rubber

Harvesting Rubber

Rubber is Harvested by Rubber Tapping, and it is done in the following steps:

  • From old secondary growth forests
  • Rubber tappers every night must remove a thin layer of bark on the tree is a spiral pattern
  • Trees can give off latex for up to 5 years if this is done correctly
  • This is done at night or early in the morning when the temperature is low, because the bark is sealed up during the day when temperature rises
  • The LATEX is the turned into RUBBER
  • Chemicals are added to to either keep the rubber in a liquid form, or to put it in a solid form they are put in square shaped blocks and hardened

Rubber plantation in Langkawi

Negative effects on the Environment

  • Rubber is a material that breaks down over time
  • To manage the trees many pesticides and chemicals are used
  • Natural rubber is very expensive, so synthetic rubber which is purely chemicals is commonly found
  • The chemicals used in synthetic rubber are weakeners and make the rubber's life time short
  • Rubber is difficult to recycle
  • They are dumped in big piles, they burn easily and the fire is hard to put out, can burn for months, years
  • Also, some people are allergic to latex

The Sound Of Rubber

Matt Lloyd

Elastic Bands can be musical too... by Matt Lloyd

How to Develop Rubber Sustainably and Boost the Economy

  • Fairly compensate rubber workers
  • Health compensations
  • Give the local economy a school, or medical facilities instead of just using the latex from the trees for 5 years and then leaving (like coffee companies)
  • New initiatives like using the guayule plant instead of petroleum and synthetic based rubber
  • Healthier alternative is the guayule plant, the environment does not have to deal with synthetic rubber burning for months after being used for just a short amount of time
  • More permanent jobs, in healthier working conditions
  • Disposing of the rubber is now much easier, environmentally friendly, and cost effective if you dispose of natural rubber and guayule plants instead of synthetic rubber