Here at Plastic Free Gardening (PFG), we source rubber from natural FSC certified small suppliers whose rubber plantations have not replaced natural forests. As the Fair Rubber Association members, PFG also pay a premium Fair Trade price – currently 40% over world market prices. Thus ensuring the continued improvement of the producers' working and living conditions and keeping the production as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible.
But what is Fairly Traded rubber?
Fairly Traded rubber is the responsibility of the Fair Rubber Association. They aim to expand and apply the concept of Fair Trade for products made from natural rubber. In the Fair Rubber Association, companies engaged in rubber products, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), and individuals work together. The ultimate aim of the Association is to thereby contribute to an improvement of the working and living conditions of the primary producers of natural latex (rubber), as well as promote the environmentally friendly production of natural rubber, as chemical-free production first and foremost benefits those engaged in the cultivation of the natural rubber. The essential instrument of Fair Rubber is the Fair Rubber logo for products that fulfil Fairtrade criteria in natural rubber.
Like us at Plastic Free Gardening, member companies, paying a Fair Trade premium is a fundamental commitment. The Fair Rubber Association monitors both the transfer of funds and the decision on what Fair Trade premiums are used. The decisive principle here is that the rubber producers can decide how to use the additional income. Independent auditing firms control adherence to the Fair Rubber criteria – whereby (unlike most other 'labels') the Fair Rubber Association pays the costs for these audits: As we cannot guarantee whether/how many orders and thus Fair Trade payments go to a producer partner, we want to make sure that participation in Fair Trade does not lead to extra costs for disadvantaged producers.
This commitment to Fair Trade prices is now more critical than ever. The low world market price paid for rubber and bad working conditions makes it very difficult for the tappers, plantation workers, and small farmers to support themselves and their families with their labour. This is where the Fair Rubber Association and its member companies want to help. Paying a Fair Trade premium to the primary producers ensures to the extent possible that even during periods of depressed world market prices, the costs of production are covered, and the suppliers have a surplus. Crucially this allows them to improve their working and living conditions. Of course, the decision as to how they would spend the Fair Trade premium remains with the primary producers.
Unlike the plastics industry, which is controlled by a few massive multinationals, natural rubber is an entirely sustainable product grown by small farmers or on plantations. Plastic Free Gardening sources only from suppliers whose plantations are certified not to replace natural forests. Due to the current low price of natural rubber, many rubber plantings are threatened from conversion to palm oil or beef production. So when you buy our seed trays, you ensure the survival of a valuable, natural resource.