LONDON — Natural rubber growers could face cost issues under the drive to introduce more sustainable practices across the natural rubber value-chain, the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR) has acknowledged.
"We need to understand that sustainability is not just a stick, but it's also a carrot," GPSNR director Stefano Savi said, adding that the platform was trying to understand what "carrots" sustainable practices offer to smallholders.
"There's a clear business case for sustainability. We have seen it in other commodities that when you do things sustainably, you're also more profitable," he added.
There is, however, an investment that needs to be put in at the beginning to improve practices.
In other models, when it comes to certifications, companies that are running plantations get a premium on their products.
This could, potentially, be a model and is already implemented — with some success — by some organizations such as FSC, Rainforest Alliance, or ESC.
But the role of GPSNR is "broader than that," Mr. Savi said. "We need to understand how we can make sustainability a shared responsibility in the supply chain and to ensure that practices are sustainable at the production level."
To address the financial barriers for smallholders, Mr. Savi said membership fees vary in GPSNR, with larger companies paying more.
GPSNR formed a dedicated strategy and objective working group in order to actively involve smallholders within the platform and find organizations that can meaningfully represent them.
The group is working on three areas: assurance models and the possibility of transferring a model from other supply chains; transparency through technology and third-party audits; and capacity building.