A four-year investigation by the US Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) uncovered evidence of an illegal timber trade stretching from Chinese-owned Dejia Group in West Africa to major hardware stores located across the USA.
The timber was from the okoumé tree, classed vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, with a range limited to just four African countries. US Federal officials are investigating the importers, Evergreen Hardwoods and Cornerstone Forest Products. The Dejia Group also exports to European countries where the EU Timber Regulation is in force, including France, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Greece.
- United States
- Chinese-owned Dejia Group
- Cornerstone Forest Products
- Evergreen Hardwoods
- hardware stores
- illegal timber trade
- IUCN Red List
- okoumé tree
- The Dejia Group
- Timber Regulation
- US Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)
- US Federal officials
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has mapped substances on the EU market in a bid to help authorities identify, plan, monitor and regulate substances of concern. There are three groups of substances:
• 270 substances are high priority for risk management.
• 1,300 substances are high priority for data generation.
• 450 substances are low priority as sufficient regulation exists, and 500 substances have been concluded to be currently of low priority after assessment.
ECHA mentioned the focus is on the 4,700 substances registered above 100 tonnes. And more than 40% of these substances have been allocated to the above categories. The substance list will be published at the end of the year.
An investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation found that some workers at tea estates certified by Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade in Sri Lanka suffer from illegal wage deductions and take home as little as 14 U.S. cents a day. Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade said they were investigating as deducting wages without workers' consent was not allowed by law and contravened their standards. Unilever said it was "deeply concerned" and would investigate. Major tea company Tetley, owned by India's Tata Global Beverages, said it was in touch with the Rainforest Alliance regarding the findings.
Palm oil producers and environmental activists alike have expressed dismay at a move by European officials to phase out palm-oil based biofuel by 2030. Officials in Indonesia and Malaysia - who together produce 85% of palm oil globally - say the move is discriminatory and have vowed a vigorous response, including lobbying EU member states, bringing the matter before the World Trade Organisation, and imposing retaliatory measures on EU goods.
Environmental activists, on the other hand, say the policy does not go far enough leaving loopholes allowing palm oil to be treated as a renewable fuel, allowing continued expansion of palm plantations into peat forests. They also criticize the policy’s failure to label soybean oil as high risk, with growing evidence that soy cultivation may have greater deforestation risks than palm oil.
US regulators say several children’s makeup products from Claire's stores tested positive for asbestos. According to Chemical Watch, the US House of Representatives is considering a bill requiring talc-containing cosmetics marketed to children to bear a warning label that the product may be contaminated with asbestos.
Fashion designer, Stella McCartney, launched #THERESHEGROWS on Instagram to raise awareness of the endangered Leuser ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia.
The campaign supports Canopy’s work to conserve Leuser, the last stronghold for orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers to co-exist in the wild. Canopy works alongside local and international NGOs and local decision-makers to protect the 6.5 million-acres rainforest, encouraging a conservation-based economy in the region.
ECHA has assessed the health and environmental risks posed by intentionally added microplastics and has concluded that an EU-wide restriction would be justified. If adopted, the restriction could result in a reduction in emissions of microplastics of about 400 thousand tonnes over 20 years.
The definition of microplastic is wide, covering small, typically microscopic (less than 5mm), synthetic polymer particles that resist (bio)degradation. The scope covers a wide range of uses in consumer and professional products in multiple sectors, including cosmetic products, detergents and maintenance products, paints and coatings, construction materials and medicinal products, as well as various products used in agriculture and horticulture and in the oil and gas sectors.
Glycidol and acrylamide - carcinogenic above certain levels but only currently controlled in the EU - have been detected in biscuit products in Hong Kong and Malaysia. Hong Kong authorities and local regulators are testing and defining safe limits to evaluate the risks before controls are put in place.
A set of predictions on key global chemical regulatory policy, including Asia & Australia, EU and Brexit, and Mexico, Central and South America and the Middle East. China introduced new or updated regulations in 2018, including the List of Priority Control Chemicals (First Batch), the List of Toxic Chemicals Strictly Restricted (2018), and National Guidance on Hazard Classification to the Aquatic Environment. Taiwan passed the amended Toxic Chemical Substance Control Act (TCSCA) on December 21, 2018. In South Korea, the amended Act on the Registration and Evaluation of Chemicals (K-REACH) came into force on 1 January 2019.
- The National Law Review
- South East Asia & Indian Continent
- Korea (Democratic People's Republic)
- Act on the Registration and Evaluation of Chemicals
- National Guidance on Hazard Classification to the Aquatic Environment
- Priority Control Chemicals
- Toxic Chemical Substance Control Act
- Toxic Chemicals Strictly Restricted
The European Commission is proposing to restrict formaldehyde in specific toys under Appendix C of Annex II of the Toy Safety Directive. The restriction will apply to six substances found in toys, including polymeric, resin-bonded wood, textile, leather,paperand water-based toy materials.
The European Commission is also proposing to amend point 13 of part III of Annex II of the Toy Safety Directive in regard to aluminium. The draft amendment aims to lower the migration limits for aluminium.
The exact dates for when the restrictions are put in place are not yet confirmed but the final date for comments is February 2019.
Hamleys and Amazon took the Frootiputti slime toy off their shelves after the product failed safety tests for boron, a substance that can impair fertility. The test, by consumer group WHICH?, found the product had four times the EU limit for boron in toys.
In the recent Forest forum meeting we shared Complicit in Corruption - a recent report written by non-profit Earthsight, highlighting the widespread corruption in Ukraine's forests, and revealing how illegality permeates the timber supply chain in Ukraine from harvest to export.
Earthsight spent two years running field and undercover investigations in Ukraine. Approximately 70% of Ukraine's timber exports enter the EU and Earthsight's investigations indicate that 40% of this timber is being illegally harvest or traded. The report also claims that a significant volume of illegally harvested timber has received the FSC stamp - the former chief of one of the largest timber producing state-forest enterprises admitted to Earthsight he had found it easy to circumvent FSC checks.
A database of over 4,000 chemical substances potentially found in plastic packaging, has been made publicly available. The Chemicals associated with Plastic Packaging (CPP) database (see CW; CRM) is the outcome of a collaboration between seven NGOs and research organisations in Europe and the US. The work has been submitted to Science of the Total Environment, and is now available, prior to peer review, as a preprint. The database is provided with the preprint as supplementary information.
EU member approved the proposal to restrict the phthalates DEHP, DBP, DIBP and BBP in articles. The four phthalates are on the REACH candidate list of SVHCs for their reprotoxic as well as endocrine disrupting properties. Under the proposal they would be restricted to a concentration equal to or below 0.1% by weight individually or in any combination in any plasticised material in articles used by consumers or those used in indoor areas. The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers now have three months to scrutinise the measure and the restriction will then be published in the EU’s Official Journal and will apply 18 months after the entry into force to products produced both in and outside of the EU.
In order to help consumers make informed choices for safer products while increasing pressure to substitute substances of concern, ECHA is going to establish a new database on the presence of hazardous chemicals in articles by the end of 2019 for waste treatment operators and consumers. The database will comprise information submitted by companies producing, importing or selling articles that contain Candidate List substances. Companies need to submit this information by the end of 2020. The work is based on the revised waste framework directive that entered into force in July 2018. It is part of the EU’s waste legislation package, contributing to the EU's circular economy policy.
ECHA has added eight new SVHCs to the Candidate List following the SVHC identification process with the involvement of the Member State Committee (MSC). Two further substances, TMA and DCHP, have also been added to the list, having been identified as SVHCs by the European Commission due to their respiratory sensitising properties and toxic for reproduction and endocrine-disrupting properties, respectively. The Commission’s decision follows the referral of the MSC opinions on these SVHC proposals in 2016.
A new study finds that illegal logging, coupled with weak state-run timber licensing systems, has led to massive timber harvesting fraud in Brazil, resulting in huge illicit harvests of Ipê trees. Ipê wood is largely shipped to the U.S. and Europe with the high value (up to $2,500 per cubic meter at export). Buyers all along the timber supply chain turn a blind eye toward fraud, with sawmills, exporters, and importers trusting the paperwork they receive, rather than questioning whether the lower prices they pay for Ipê and other timber may be due to timber laundering. This process is doing major damage to the Amazon. To reduce document fraud, the Brazilian federal government required that all states register or integrate their timber licensing systems within a national timber inventory and tracking system known as Sinaflor. While this should reduce fraudulent paperwork, better oversight of forest management plans and more onsite inspections of timber operations are needed also.
Results of a market survey conducted by ECHA shows the volume of bisphenol S (BPS) used as developer in thermal paper manufactured in the EU doubled between 2016 and 2017. The market share of BPS-based thermal papers is expected to continue to increase in the coming years, and in particular after 2 January 2020, when BPA can no longer be used in thermal paper in the EU.
Earlier this year Vietnam initialled a timber trade agreement with the EU that will see Vietnam implement legislation to address imports of illegally harvested and traded timber in return for timber exports to the EU. According to a recent EIA investigation, Vietnam continues its role as a serial offender in the illegal timber trade, with large volumes of illegal timber still flowing across the Cambodian border unhindered. EIA have identified three main areas within Cambodia where substantial illegal logging operations continue. EIA tracked timber from these sites is being smuggled out of Cambodia and into Vietnam across informal crossings.
In an EU/EEA-wide project of ECHA’s Enforcement Forum, inspectors found hundreds of consumer products with illegal amounts of restricted chemicals. Every fifth toy inspected contained high levels of restricted phthalates.