Paper Excellence participated in the “Wood you find it?” event hosted by FSC International in Brussels to discuss the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), approved in April by the European Parliament. Representatives of the European Commission responsible for the approved text, public policy makers, companies, NGOs and FSC leaders discussed together what are the biggest challenges for the implementation of the EUDR.
The main objective of the new regulation is to ensure that products produced or marketed in the European Union do not contribute to deforestation or forest degradation. The new regulation is applied for any product related to six commodities: cattle, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, soybeans and wood as well as a variety of their by-products.
Wood products arriving in Europe from non-European producers represent considerable numbers. Brazil is among the top suppliers with 38 percent, behind China with 73 percent and ahead of Russia with 32 percent. Pulp and paper pipelines alone already account for more than EUR 15 billion in imports from Europe. Among the main European purchasing countries are: Finland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Germany and France.
Companies will have 18 months to adapt and meet the new EDUR requirements. Therefore, it is essential that supplier countries are aware of the new rules and seek to participate more actively in the ongoing discussions, so that their concerns can be considered from the initial stage of regulation implementation. Within the working groups, Paper Excellence suggested that sectoral meetings be held to discuss the main issues so we can contribute to the search for the best solutions and technologies.
In general, the main question brought up by the EUDR is how to ensure the traceability of the chain and the origin of the wood. According to Astrid Ladefoged, from the Commission responsible for drafting the text, the most important thing companies having the geolocation coordinates of each area from which the wood is cut. But, when we analyze the approved text, there are still points of doubt, in addition to some requirements that small producers may not be able, specifically in relation to the need for due diligence.
One of the topics addressed at the event was precisely how the EUDR will try to ensure a country’s regulations are respected—especially when its definitions of deforestation and forest degradation are not the same as the EUDR’s. For example, the EUDR considers the harvesting of primary forests and the replanting of those forests as forest degradation, but this has been done successfully and sustainably throughout Canada’s history. Canada actually harvests less then 1% of its forests on an annualized basis.
Another topic addressed was collecting geolocation points. This is something extremely easy to do when the company has control of its entire forest land operation or when it is buying logs. But when the raw material is sawmills residuals (wood chips) purchased from hundreds of sawmill suppliers who in turn source their logs from hundreds of potential suppliers, it is no longer so simple to collect, share and reshare information. In addition, in some countries, such as Canada, the land areas are extremely extensive and a single GPS point per property, as suggested by the European Commission, would not be enough to guarantee the quality of the information.
So, as you can see, the purpose of the EUDR is good and is aligned with global commitments regarding climate issues. It is also aligned with work major pulp and paper players have already done to track their supply chains effectively. However, in practice, its implementation may be more complex than it seems. And if not carefully analyzed before full enforcement, it could affect markets and create unnecessary barriers.
Paper Excellence continues to follow the main discussions related to the sector around the world, seeking to contribute to those that are related to the sustainability of our business. Paper Excellence is committed to sourcing from legal and sustainable sources which is why we hold FSC, PEFC and SFI certifications for forest management, fibre sourcing and chain of custody. We are always open to listen and discuss new ideas in order to make our operations more sustainable. We believe that if we unite ideas, forces and resources, the biggest beneficiary will always be the planet and, consequently, all of us.