Over the past few months, our annual Book Chain Project conference has been the focus for the team in London. The event involved a day of panel discussions and delved into topics on all aspects of the Book Chain Project, all under the theme of ‘The Story of Books’. There are 60 people from invited participating publishers, mills and suppliers in attendance. 11 speakers from a variety of companies talked about topics on pulp price rising, mill pressures, deforestation hotpots, plastic issues and modern slavery etc. The day was a great success and ended with a tour of the wetlands and feedback has been incredibly positive with 50% of attendees rating the event as ‘Very Good’.
The toy industry has assured consumers that risk from chemicals in secondhand plastic toys is low, following a study in the UK that revealed the presence of hazardous elements. Research carried out at the University of Plymouth tested 200 toys from schools, charity shops and family homes for the presence of: antimony; arsenic; barium; cadmium; chromium; lead; mercury; selenium; and bromine (as a proxy for brominated flame retardants).
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) says decking on luxury yachts made in the UK have illegal wood on them. EU rules dictate that point of origin in the chain of sale must be legally-sourced teak from Myanmar. Princess Yachts International and Sunseeker International, both singled out by the EIA in their statement, will be at the London Boat Show this week.
Two organizations, Woodland Trust and Confer, warn that England now is cutting down more trees than planting in the possibly 40 years. They pointed out that England is already one of Europe’s least wooded countries, and the government is missing its target to plant 11 million trees in the UK in the lifetime of this parliament. The UK government responded that the woodland cover was at its highest level since the 14th century, and planting rates vary from year to year. The Woodland Trust, Confor and large commercial forestry groups call on the government to commit to planting 7,000 hectares of woodland every year until 2020 and then to increase planting to 10,000 hectares a year.
British businesses from the high street and timber, construction, publishing, DIY and grocery industries are among the first UK firms committing to responsible forest trade to help end deforestation around the world with a shift to 100 per cent sustainable timber and wood products by 2020. The existing loopholes in the current legislation to combat illegal timber means some industries are exempt from ensuring that their wood or products have come from legal sources. In 2015 the timber regulation is due to be reviewed and WWF and its campaign supporters are calling on the UK government to demand the EU makes the necessary improvements to the regulation to ensure that all timber products are covered and thus end the import of illegal wood.
A new £15m forestry research centre at Birmingham University will study how climate change is affecting Britain's woodlands and examine how trees can be protected from the threat of invasive pests and diseases, such as the Chalara fraxinea virus which has caused the spread of Ash dieback across the country.
A report from the UK- and US-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has said that up to 80% of the hardwood harvested in the Russian far east is logged illegally. The EIA say the demand for this material comes from Chinese sawmills and subsequently their western customers. The material that is of most concern is illegally logged Russian oak. US wood flooring retailer, Lumber Liquidators, was named in the report as being heavily reliant on Chinese suppliers who allegedly mainly sell illegally logged material. The EIA say the US and EU regulations on illegal logging are important pressure points where they now have the ability to intervene – before now, and without this pressure, illegal logging in Siberia has seen rapid expansion. Despite industry incentives from the Russian government, incredible demand from China has led to Chinese sawmills establishing just over the China-Russia border. EIA’s investigations suggest that most of these mills rely on a supply of illegally logged timber.
New checks on Indonesian timber are being introduced by the EU to curb illegal logging. The EU is Indonesia’s biggest export market for timber, with Germany, the UK, France and Italy among the major importers.
From now on, only Indonesian timber compliant with the EU’s verification system, called Forest Law Enforcement Governance (FLEGT) will be imported into the EU. The European Commission says the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with Indonesia commits both sides to only trade in verified legal timber products.
The UK government is backing the Tropical Forests Alliance (TFA) 2020. TFA 2020 is a business-led initiative launched by the US government and the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) which is a group of over 400 retailers and manufacturers. Although there are no regulatory implications, TFA 2020 aims to provide a forum ‘in which to share best practice with major private companies’ committed to adopting ‘sustainable supply chains’ and to ‘encourage other governments and companies to take similar steps’.
In advance of the entering into force of the EUTR, the UK Contractors Group has stated that all timber products purchased for either temporary or permanent use on UKCG member sites will be certified as legally and sustainably sourced through FSC or PEFC.