EU deforestation law ‘could marginalise rubber growers’
22 Feb 2023
Rubber produced by smallholders could be relegated to second-tier market, warns leading consultancy
London - The EU is introducing anti-deforestation regulations to force all stakeholders in the rubber & tire value-chain to clarify whether or not any of the natural rubber being supplied, traded or used is linked to deforestation.
As such, the European law is “positive”: as it encourages buyers to take and cascade responsibilities across the entire complex value-chain, according to Paris-based sustainability consultancy Ksapa, in written comments to ERJ.
Potential problems, however, lie in imposing due diligence measures across the supply-chain, noted Kaspa, which among other activities, leads a project with Michelin to enhance the wellbeing and productivity of 6,000 small rubber plantation owners in Sri Lanka.
The EU regulation, explains Ksapa CEO Farid Baddache, will apply equally to the Brazilian beef and soy sectors – the main focus of deforestation, comprised mainly of farms of several hundred or even thousands of hectares (Ha) – as to the natural rubber sector, where more than 85% of production is carried out on farms of less than 2Ha.
And, he said, with challenging issues around how to pay for and allocate responsibilities to deliver compliance, the situation could lead to small producers being excluded from the more profitable and environmentally responsible markets.
This, warned Baddache, could result in “a two-tier agricultural production markets: one that complies with EU requirements for sustainable markets, the other that will be ‘for the rest of the world’ without any impact on the reduction of deforestation and putting small producers at social, economic and environmental risk.”
Read the full report in the January/February issue of European Rubber Journal magazine – online version also available in the Featured Content section under the Focus tab on the ERJ website homepage.