Natural rubber’s elasticity, ability to form tight water and air seals, dampen vibrations and act as an electrical insulator make it a key material in the automotive and electronics sectors.
Natural rubber is produced by extracting latex from rubber trees, which are generally grown in tropical regions. Southeast Asia accounts for 95% of global natural rubber’s supply. Within the region, Thailand and Indonesia produce the highest global shares of natural rubber, with other top producers including China, the United States, Malaysia, Japan and South Korea. Synthetic rubber is also widely used, and has similar though not identical properties to natural rubber. These differing properties make synthetic rubber the best chouse for many, but not all, applications.
Rubber’s elasticity, ability to form tight water and air seals, dampen vibrations and act as an electrical insulator, combined with its ability to mould into almost any shape, make it a key material for a range of manufacturing uses, including in the automotive and electronics sectors. Most of the natural rubber produced globally is used to make tyres for the automotive industry. Natural rubber is also used in several other sectors, including in the manufacture of medical equipment such as surgical gloves and in consumer goods, including toys, balloons and footwear.
There are several prominent ESG issues associated with natural rubber’s supply chain. The most severe issues relate to deforestation and associated negative impacts on biodiversity, water pollution, poor working conditions, labour rights violations, Indigenous Peoples’ rights violations and land displacement., Natural rubber is primarily harvested by smallholder farmers, and the highly fragmented and complex structure of natural rubber supply chains makes traceability difficult. Consequently, it is often hard to effectively assess whether basic environmental, social and governance standards are met within the rubber supply chain.
Main Uses and Attributes
Supply Chain Risk
TDi assesses Rubber (Natural) for key risks affecting the security of supply, and for its association with artisanal and small-scale mining.
Country Governance Risks
Rubber (Natural)'s association with countries experiencing:
Association with ESG issues
TDi Sustainability's data rates Rubber (Natural)'s association with the following issues as high or very high: