While I was writing my last blog post about the Tecbor rubber, I became very skeptical of whether this process was truly eco-friendly. I have always been taught that producing rubber and plastic was one of the most harmful processes to the environment. If this technology is really "out there" why isn't being used all the time? So, I decided to do a little bit of research. This is what I found.
Tecbor is a new type of eco-friendly rubber made and produced in the Brazilian Amazon. The eco-friendly process of congealing the rubber without the harmful chemicals was first invented by Professor Floriano Pastore at the University of Brasilia Latex Laboratory. The key ingredient in this new technology is pyroligenous acid which is used to produce the rubber sheets. Before this technology the only way of coagulating the latex material was through acetic acid in combination with a substance derived from wood smoke. Also. this new process cuts the stages of grinding and rinsing, which in the past, used a large amount of water and electricity. The rubber tappers are able to dry the latex panels outside which saves a lot of energy.
Greenpeace, an environmentalist and peace associated organization, has collaborated with 40 rubber tapping families in the Jurua Valley, an extractive reserve in the amazon, to launch The Amazon Tecbor Project sponsored by the University of Brasilia, the National Council of Rubber Tappers, and the National Centre of Traditional Populations. Greenpeace chose this location for the pilot phase of the project because the region faces the threat of large scale logging operations. Greenpeace along with it's collaborators use this project as an example to prove that the rain forests can be economically useful while they're alive. The rubber produced during the first phase of this project was used by Greenpeace to produce completely eco-friendly mouse pads.
Using this process to produce rubber has also helped the small, native rubber tapping communities in the Amazon. The people of these communities have taken the technology and adapted it to their own practices in order to improve the rubber making process. The Brazilian rubber tappers are able to produce the rubber sheets on their own, eliminating the middlemen, which directly helps the residents of these communities.
Despite my initial skepticism, I have been completely converted after doing the research on Tecbor. It's a wonderful new technology that helps us use the rich resources of the rain forest without destroying it. Also, this technology helps the smaller communities rather then the large rubber producing companies. This research has also given me a new appreciation of Flavia Amadeu's rubber bracelets. She has found a way to make this new rubber stylish and fashionable.