Analysis: The Wonder Material We All Need but Is Running Out
By Frank Swain
Natural rubber is a uniquely tough, flexible and highly waterproof material. It puts tires on our vehicles, soles on our shoes, it makes seals for engines and refrigerators, insulates wires and other electrical components. It is used in condoms and clothing, sports balls and the humble elastic bands. Over the past year it has played a pivotal role in the pandemic in personal protective equipment worn by doctors and nurses around the world.
In fact, rubber is deemed to be a commodity of such global importance that it is included on the EU’s list of critical raw materials.
Unfortunately, there are signs the world might be running out of natural rubber. Disease, climate change and plunging global prices have put the world’s rubber supplies into jeopardy. It has led scientists to search for a solution before it’s too late.
Photo courtesy of Abhi_Jacob.