The Guardian has recently uncovered audits and whistleblowing reports from factories that supply the fast-fashion retailer Boohoo. All 18 audit reports raised questions about minimum wage violations at the time they were conducted. Issues identified in these supplier audits include inaccurate hours recorded for workers potentially resulting in workers not receiving the minimum wage or their furlough money, workers not having the right to work in the UK, and employees being issued with contracts that aren’t in their native language amongst others.
Collected news links from external sources related to topics concerning the Book Chain Project.
This report by independent environmental charity Earthsight finds illegal logging in FSC-certified supply chains in Ukraine. Focussed on the Carpathian forests, it found around 100 sites are being felled illegally each spring, when silence periods should protect several endangered animal species including brown bears, wolves and Eurasian lynx. While regulations require Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) before sanitary felling is conducted, no EIAs were found to have been carried out. Evidence sited by Earthsight includes the Ukrainian State Environmental Inspectorate (SEI), local environmental organisations, and research commissioned by WWF Germany.
Earthsight claims this illegal logging has not been picked up in FSC audits because of systematic issues with FSC that go beyond Ukraine: conflicts of interest as auditing bodies are paid by the logging companies they certify; inadequate oversight by Assurance Services International (ASI) which should be holding the auditing bodies to account but is argued to have failed to do so. The report documents a wide array of cases where FSC-certified firms have been accused of illegal logging, clearance of High Conservation Value (HCV) forests, and human rights abuses from all over the world – including in places such as Brazil, China, Congo, Indonesia, Peru, Romania, Russia, Ukraine. Earthsight highlights that FSC has only investigated 13 companies in its 27-year history – 0.02% of the more than 44,000 it has certified.
In response, FSC states it is fully aware of the issues in Ukraine, and insists that whenever illicit acts are identified or reported they are investigated. IKEA says it has started its own investigations, commissioned audits from a 3rd-party independent audit company, asked questions to ASI, and pledges that if any illegal wood is indicated in its product it will take immediate action.
Earthsight’s report focuses on IKEA because, as the biggest buyer of wood in the world, it has the most influence to drive positive change. However, the issues found by Earthsight apply to the publishing industry as much as they do to IKEA. Therefore, the Book Chain Project will further look into Earthsight’s findings and update you as soon as we decide what further action to take.
According to an investigation by the environmental charity Earthsight, in the area of forest - Velykyi Bychkiv within Ukraine, loggers appear to be taking advantage of loopholes that allow for “sanitary felling” during the silent periods in the spring and early summer from 2018 to 2020. Some of the wood in question is found in the supply chain of Swedish furniture maker Ikea, who denied wrongdoing and immediately began their own investigations into all parties mentioned in Earthsight’s report.
In October 2019, the 14th ATP (Adaptation to Technical Progress) to the CLP regulation, which includes amendments to Annexes II, III and VI, has been adopted by the European Commission. One of the amendments includes the annex VI entry for titanium dioxide (CAS 13463-67-7) as a carcinogenic category 2 by inhalation route in powder form. This will apply to titanium dioxide in powder form containing 1% or more of particles with a diameter ≤ 10 μm. The classification also requires that mandatory product labelling and warnings will be required for mixtures containing titanium dioxide.
Titanium dioxide is widely used across multiple industries. For example, titanium dioxide is used for the manufacture of chemicals, plastic products, textile, leather or fur, wood and wood products, pulp, paper and paper products, rubber products, coatings and printing inks.
This amendment has been put forward to the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers who will have a couple of months to raise any objections. If there are no objections, this amendment will come into force mid-2021.
This August, Network for Certification and Conservation of Forests (NCCF), the national member of PEFC from India, has released the voluntary certification standard for Trees Outside Forests (TOF) in India after three years' development. In the Indian context, TOF refers to agroforestry, urban trees and forests and scattered trees in farmland and homesteads, trees along roads, canals, railway lines and in orchards and gardens. These trees are mostly privately owned, even by small and marginal farmers. TOF resources play a very important role in meeting the demand for wood fibre in India, especially for the pulp and paper, plywood and composite products, handicrafts and furniture industries. Currently, TOF resources are estimated to meet more than 85% of the industrial wood requirements. We anticipate that NCCF will seek the endorsement of TOF certification standard by PEFC and will keep following its development.
China has taken further steps to reduce the burden of social insurance on employers by implementing new policies and rules. On production safety, the government issued a policy titled ‘Measures on Coordination Between Administrative Enforcement and Criminal Proceedings in Production Safety Crimes’, which will mean tighter enforcement in this area. Some new updates on workplace sexual harassment and personal data protection have also been put forward by government. Employers are asked to review these newly issued policies and any forthcoming national and local policies to ensure their practices are in line with the regulations.
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.
The publishing initiative run by Carnstone, The Book Chain Project, held its second Asia Summit on 24th of April in Shenzhen, China. It was an opportunity for all the stakeholders in the paper and pulp industry to get together to discuss the latest developments in responsible fibre sourcing. Among the 70 delegates there were paper mills, printers, publishers, retailers, timber experts, and NGOs. The aim of the Summit was to discuss the latest developments on responsible forest sourcing and to share best practice.
The first session included speakers from Carnstone, Chronicle Books, and Donnelly, who shared their understanding on forest sourcing and provided the customer perspective. Next, WWF introduced their work on increasing demand of certified and recycled paper products. IKEA also presented their forest traceability system. Then, IPE and China Water Risk provided their insights on industrial pollution and the water-use pressures present in China.
The next session focused on three major paper mills; UPM, APP and Chenming Paper, sharing their response to the growing expectations and regulations around paper manufacturing. This panel was also joined by TFT who shared their insights on how mills can develop and implement sustainable sourcing systems and encourage engagement further up the supply chain.
The certification schemes, FSC and CFCC, explained how they are evolving to ensure transparency and traceability in global forest supply chains. And the event closed with practical sessions from the Carnstone team, who guided mills and printers to get the most from the online Book Chain Project database. Printers and mills had an opportunity to ask questions, share feedback, and offer ideas and improvements for the future.
Speakers’ slides: https://bookchainproject.com/event?event=5
IPE’s Companies environmental performance monitoring database: http://www.ipe.org.cn/IndustryRecord/Regulatory.aspx?keycode=343j9f9ri329293r3rixxx
China Water Risk website: http://chinawaterrisk.org/
An introduction to FSC certification scheme: https://v.qq.com/x/page/g0639hql3zp.html
The publishing initiative run by Carnstone, The Book Chain Project, held its second Asia Summit on 24th of April in Shenzhen, China. It was an opportunity for all the stakeholders in the paper and pulp industry to get together to discuss the latest developments in responsible fibre sourcing. Among the 70 delegates there were paper mills, printers, publishers, retailers, timber experts, and NGOs. The aim of the Summit was to discuss the latest developments on responsible forest sourcing and to share best practice. Further reading and speakers’ slides: https://bookchainproject.com/news
Even as the logging industry lobbies the Canadian government to further delay measures that would protect the country’s diminishing woodland caribou herds, research and satellite images of the boreal released last month by NRDC clearly illustrate the failure of voluntary industry commitments to protect woodland caribou habitat.
China’s National Consumer Product Safety Commission has recently consulted on a draft list of substance restrictions in consumer products. The list combines a number of existing Chinese standards and, where no domestic standard exists, it refers to restrictions based on EU and other foreign legislation. The draft is similar to the consumer restrictions set out in REACH Annex XVII - includes 103 chemicals and proposes limit values for their use in consumer products, such as toys, textiles, coatings, paints, decoration materials and furniture.
An unannounced inspection by officials from China’s top environment watchdog at a factory in eastern China ended with an unexpected turn of events for all involved, as inspectors were obstructed from performing their duties and later blocked from leaving. The incident happened at a furnace maker in Jinan City, Shandong province, called Shandong Lüjie Environmental Protection Energy Saving Technology Co. Ltd. The manager identified had stopped the team from doing their work, citing “problematic” government identification cards, according to a statement on the Weibo microblog of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP).
A recent analysis by Monitoring the Andean Amazon Project (MAAP) finds that deforestation is pressing further into a protected area in central Peru. Located in central Peru's Amazon rainforest, El Sira is home to several indigenous groups, as well as endangered species found nowhere else and surrounded by deforestation for cropland, cattle pasture, and gold mining. According to the analysis, these activities have invaded the northern portion of El Sira reserve, with 1,600 hectares of forest cleared since 2013.
From 15 November special licences issued by Jakarta will certify the legality of timber products destined for the EU such as pulp, plywood and furniture. This assurance system, will be independently audited to ensure the timber is legally sourced and meets environmental standards. Once the agreement takes effect from 15 November, timber exports from Indonesia that do not carry this certification will be prohibited from trade within the EU.
Imazon, a group that tracks forest trends in Brazil, released data suggesting deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon may be on the rise after years of remaining at historic lows. The data shows that the deforestation during the month of June 2016 is the highest level recorded in a single month since November 2007. Forest clearing in Brazil often rises in dry years and when the national currency is weak, which makes agricultural exports more profitable. Currently, both conditions are present in Brazil. INPE, Brazil’s national satellite agency, provides official deforestation quarterly. The rise of deforestation trend in Brazil could be further confirmed after both INPE and Imazon release data next month.
Endangered Forests in the Balance : the impact of logging reaches new heights in the Montagnes Blanches endangered Forest
The Montagnes Blanches endangered forest has become a focus area for conservation organisations due to threats on its unique features by illegal logging. According to satellite data provided from 2000-2013, almost 50% of the intact forest landscape has been lost or degraded. Furthermore the species, woodland cari-bou within this forest is now being identified as threatened under Canada’s Species at Risk 2.
According to a newly released report from a non-profit organization called Forest Trends, in the past few years, imports of rosewood, collectively known as hongmu, from Africa surged, which are prized by Chinese furniture manufacturers who use them to make products that are highly coveted status symbols.
A report on the activities of the Association of Forest Communities of Petén (ACOFOP) in Guatemala show the positive potential impact of community based forest management. The members of ACOFOP include small furniture manufacturers sell products approved by the Rainforest Alliance.
The article refers to a report published last month by the World Resources Institute which investigated both the Guatemalan concessions and a similar model found in Brazil’s indigenous communities in the Amazon. The WRI estimated that Guatemala stood to benefit up to $800 million over the next two decades through community management of forest concessions.
A new report by the Rainforest Action Network provides further evidence of the benefits of greater local land rights in conserving tropical forests. The research follows a separate report published in 2014 by the World Resources Institute, an international environmental NGO. That study showed deforestation rates were 11 times lower in zones licensed to local communities than in other lands.
The Mongabay article reports that Indonesia targeted 2.5 million hectares of land for community-based forest management between 2009 and 2014 but only 13% of this had actually been allocated for community-based forest management by the end of 2013. The article points to criticisms by some that many licenses vulnerable to abuse with one commentator claiming that some loosely organized communities will simply sell their land to the highest bidder – often industrial companies.
32 indigenous villagers in Cambodia’s north-eastern area, Stung Treng province, called on local forestry officials to crackdown on illegal saw mills and to provide them with protection after they received death threats from unsanctioned loggers of luxury timber. The 32 villagers are community activists, and they vowed to keep fighting illegal logging in their local area despite the threats. The environmental watchdog Global Witness said in a report in February that China’s voracious demand for luxury furniture is the driver behind the multimillion-dollar illegal trade in rosewood in Cambodia.