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Sep 14, 2022
IRSG in link-up to support rubber sustainability research

Rubber study group to work with NTU on traceability of natural rubber

The International Rubber Study Group (IRSG) has started a partnership with Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to research traceability and sustainability of natural rubber.

The collaboration will see research used to "re-calibrate" the IRSG statistical model to predict the supply and demand of natural and synthetic rubber by factoring in new determinants or changes in this industry.

These, said IRSG in an August statement, will include upstream and downstream elements across the supply chain.

Based on the new calibrated model, the researchers will propose a white paper on how climate change affects global rubber trading from the supply chain perspective and how it will impact livelihoods and communities.

"More research needs to be done to measure and ensure that natural rubber is produced and distributed with the best sustainable practices", said IRSG secretary general Salvatore Pinizzotto.

The partnership, he went on to say, will adopt a "rigorous knowledge-driven approach" to improve the well-being of smallholders' communities.

As part of the collaboration, IRSG will provide financial support as a 'corporate partner' to the NTU-CEIT PhD scholarship.

Furthermore, the partnership, which can be extended to 'beyond plantations' after the first year, will explore traceability within the NR supply chain.

With 85% of the global production coming from smallholders, research on traceability will be the key to address one of the most challenging aspects of sustainability in the supply chain.

The issue becomes more prominent as many independent middlemen buy rubber from small farmers and sell it to processors.

This, IRSG said, makes tracking each independent producer challenging, especially for buyers further downstream.

Furthermore, natural rubber is non-perishable and can be stored for a long time and travel long distances.

"This means having access to factory production dates and locations may not provide meaningful information related to smallholders and plantations", explained research director of the centre of excellence international trading (CEIT) assistant professor Ru Hong.

"As such, it is important to learn how to ensure both plantations and supply chains are sustainable", he concluded.

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