There are several reasons including:
1 - Transportation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases. Hence, to reduce our carbon footprint we need to source certified natural rubber closer to the manufacturing hubs, including Vietnam.
2- Vietnam is a global manufacturing hub, yet presently, there are no FSC-certified rubber plantation forests in Vietnam. Ever since Yulex LLC was a company of 1 (Jeff), certified natural rubber was what we used from the start. A Forest Stewardship Council ("FSC") certification for sustainable forest management provides confidence that the plantation forest is being managed in a way that preserves biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people and workers, while ensuring economic viability.
3- I'm Liz, co-owner & Chief Business Officer for Yulex LLC, attorney, educator, mom, spouse to Jeff & social activist. Why Vietnam is more than sentimental for me. I was born in Vietnam and escaped on a boat with my siblings on the day Saigon (now known as Ho Chi Minh City) fell to the People's Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong on April 30, 1975 in what is called the "American War" here. 47 years later, I returned to Vietnam on April 30, 2022 as the Vietnamese celebrate their Reunification Day. The irony is not lost on me.
To meet the objectives of 1 and 2, we have started a grassroots campaign. We are on the ground working with NGOs (non-governmental organizations), the Vietnamese Rubber Association, FSC, processors, cooperatives, national, provincial and local authorities and importantly, the small holders. Small holders or farmers own small parcels of land but collectively produce over 50% of the rubber in Vietnam. Like small holders all over the world, they are vital to the industry and they need fair and equitable access to premium markets to be sustainable. As a returning Vietnamese, helping small holders feels like a commitment and an obligation. I know there will be setbacks, but I hope you'll be back to root for our progress.