Chronicle 14: FSC and PEFC Certified Natural Rubber Supply Chains

October 31, 2022


Rubber Chronicles

Women smallholder on farm in Vietnam

Certified Supply Chains Help Reduce CO2 Emissions

No to deforestation. Yes to renewable.

Responsibly-managed rubber plantations, although a mono-culture (1 species) agriculture, mitigate climate change by capturing and storing carbon (CO2) to remove significant amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. Well managed rubber plantations also provide renewable raw materials, for example, natural rubber and livelihoods (income) for millions of people.

From our origins, Yulex has focused on zero deforestation and a renewable resource to procure, create and/or develop certified natural rubber and products made from it such as our foam and fibers, which replace those products such as neoprene and spandex, made from non-renewable petroleum.

FSC and PEFC (Certifications) for Natural Rubber

Commonalities of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC):

Mission: To meet the global demand for forest products without compromising it for future generations, both FSC and PEFC work to promote improved forest management with outcomes that have social benefit and are also prosperous.

Certifications: FSC and PEFC both work with many stakeholders including environmental groups (NGOs), timber and rubber industry, foresters and local peoples. FSC develops an international standard applicable to all countries, whereas PEFC adopts country certification standards so long as they meet the PEFC benchmarks. Both FSC and PEFC provide for Chain of Custody (COC) and Forest Management (FM) certifications through independent certification bodies.

Origins of FSC and PEFC:  Forest Stewardship Council was established in 1993 after a failed attempt to agree on a deforestation agreement at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992.  PEFC was born in 1999 as a certification system for small and family owned forest owners in Europe. It has since expanded its scope internationally.


What are the Differences Between FSC and PEFC?

PEFC and FSC Operate Simultaneously but "HOW" they do it is Different.

PEFC is Bottom Up: PEFC has specific benchmarks, but evaluates each country's national forest management plan and works with them to meet PEFC benchmarks. PEFC does not set standards like FSC, instead recognizing the sovereignty of each country to set their own standards. Because of their origins in Europe working with small and family owned forests, they prioritize local (country) conditions.

FSC is Top down: FSC has a set of international standards that are applied to each member country. FSC also protects representative sample areas of native ecosystems and/or restores them to more natural conditions and requires a minimum of 10% of the certified area to be set aside. FSC is currently reviewing this criterion due to the hardships on many certificate owners, especially smallholders. FSC also requires that certificate owners show that there was no deforestation after 1994. However, it recently moved its cutoff date for eligibility from 1994 to 2020, thus allowing loggers who can provide remedies for harms during the 1994-2002 period to now be eligible for FSC-certification.

Who does Yulex work with?

Yulex is presently working with smallholders, most of whom are not yet certified. 85% of rubber producers are smallholders, hence their livelihood is critical to environmental, social and economic sustainability efforts. Yulex continues to work with large FSC-certified plantations (thousands of hectares) that are held by a few prominent families and corporations.

For example, about 87% of the 265,000 smallholders in Vietnam own 3 hectares or less while contributing to more than 50% of the total Vietnamese rubber supply. Hence, sustainable forest management and sustainable natural rubber supply chains in Vietnam absolutely require the participation of smallholders. In Vietnam, Yulex works with PEFC and the local Vietnamese forestry office to create linkages between many stakeholders and helping to develop smallholder cooperatives with private enterprises.  

We also work with PEFC in Vietnam because the FSC 10% conservation set aside criterion is a financial hardship to smallholders, who need to derive maximal income and value from their land for survivability. They are the first part of the supply chain but the least compensated. If we help secure their livelihood, economic sustainability is the outcome.

Yulex is focused on bringing premiums of the certified natural rubber supply chain to the smallholders. Hence, the PEFC approach is more aligned with the Yulex Mission: Planet and People. Thinking Globally. Acting Locally.

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