In an effort to educate ourselves and to see first-hand the processes that our natural rubber flooring undergoes before arriving at our warehouse, several employees from Rubber-Cal journeyed to the city of Klang in Malaysia to visit some of the rubber production sites. What resulted is this informative video about how natural rubber is actually a very sustainable floor option for many homes or commercial sites. In Klang, rubber is extracted by utilizing the rubber tapping process that is the core of the green flooring industry.
Relatively hassle free, tapping a rubber tree consists of just creating a channel for rubber to drip down. Making an incision in the bark of the tree at a twenty-five to thirty degree angle horizontally, the tree’s latex vessels are exposed and drip down the tree. These cells are what rubber actually consists of and must be collected at the end of the channel in a small cup-like device. The channel must be cut following the same twenty-five to thirty degree angle circling down the tree from the high left side of the tree down to the lower right side. This angled cut maximizes the number of latex vessels that are exposed so that the channel is most effective. The latex then accumulates in the cup and gels to a harder and malleable consistency so that it is ready for manufacturing. This process is entirely sustainable because the trees heal themselves so that they can be used time after time.
Currently, the main tree that is used for natural rubber production is the Hevea tree, nicknamed the green rubber factory. Though there are lots of other plants that produce latex, the “Para” or “Hevea” rubber tree is the plant of choice for mass production. For eco friendly flooring options, this plant is ideal because it combines the sun, atmospheric molecules, water, and mineral elements of undesirable soil as a renewable energy source. Hevea trees require seven years to reach full maturity and be fit to farm for its latex and natural rubber flooring manufacturing processes. Rubber latex itself is biodegradable so it does not damage the environment when left in nature. This means that if any of these eco friendly flooring options are discarded, they will actually biodegrade into the environment over time. Not only does the rubber tree create sustainable floor products, it also helps to reconstitute damaged and arid soil. The byproducts from creating rubber are all biodegradable and can help replenish soil that has been sucked of nutrients. In fact, flooring made from Hevea is such a green flooring option that when the tree is no longer able to produce natural rubber it is used for timber. A truly eco friendly process, the tree allows for rubber to continue being mass produced with actual benefits to the environment. The only downside to using the tree for rubber production is that it can only yield rubber during certain seasons and cannot produce rubber in the rain. Many suppliers are looking towards a promising potential option in palm tree oil during the transitional time that rubber cannot be tapped.
Apart from trees, there are almost 2000 plants that produce rubber. This vast array of rubber producing plants creates what is known as the rubber belt, an area of seven hundred miles on each side of the equator circling the world. While there are thousands of other plants that produce rubber, they are not as commonly used in favor of Hevea trees. This is because these plants generally have a low yield rate of rubber or there are too many impurities in the rubber to effectively create natural rubber flooring that is consumer ready. Natural rubber is used in products ranging from refrigerator doors to space shuttle windows. With such a diverse product with countless applications, rubber must be manufactured at high quantities to accommodate its demand. Plants that can only produce rubber at low yields are ineffective and cannot be planted in giant crops to maximize profit. This is why the rubber tree is the most preferred rubber producing plant for the sustainable floor industry.
An innovative and forward thinking industry, eco friendly flooring options have quickly become a forerunner of the flooring world, producing mass amounts of sustainable floor surfaces for eco-conscious homeowners and businesses. With a multitude of rubber producing plants scattered throughout the world, the most effective and most popular tree is the Hevea plant, a tree so sustainable it actually helps restore the environment when planted. In an incredibly informing trip to Malaysia, our Rubber-Cal staff were impressed by the lack of a carbon footprint and damage to the environment. We are proud to offer our natural rubber flooring products knowing that they come from such an environmentally conscious process.