Growing demand for timber as construction material, fuel and charcoal is devastating Cambodia's forests. In 1975, forests covered 73 per cent of the country’s surface; last year it was down to only 46.84 per cent. Cambodian government has recognised the importance of forests and extended the natural protected area, under the Cambodian Environment Ministry, to 7.2 million hectares – the equivalent of 41 per cent of the Kingdom’s land surface.
Collected news links from external sources related to topics concerning the Book Chain Project.
China, the world’s largest timber importer, issued a new draft of its first Forest Law update in 20 years that adds a prohibition on buying illegally sourced timber. It will be effective on 01 July 2020. Issues around enforcement, such as the burden of proof being on government departments, traders being out of scope, and low penalties, remain.
Please find more details about the law here. (EH&CH)
P.S. Recently, we attended an APEC region workshop hosted by APEC Expert Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (EGILAT) in Malaysia on forest law governance. This table captures the major and emerging forest law regulations in the region.
Metsä Group's Äänekoski mill in Finland now calls itself a ‘bioproducts mill’ as it makes paper and wood for recyclable drinks cartons, clothing and building materials. They re-use the chemical additives and by-products of the production process to make sure they are not wasted. They also deploy drones to digitally map the forest area so they can monitor trees using a mobile phone app and then arrange remotely for contractors to thin or harvest an area when the trees look ready. For more information, please visit Metsä Group's website.
In late May, Toxics Free China and the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation published a report on the safety of plastic toys being sold online, warning of hazardous plasticisers and loopholes in their regulation on e-commerce sites. Most of these plastic novelties lack safety certificates and required information on date and place of manufacture. Of the 12 rubber ducks purchased and analysed for the study, nine contained 123 to 312 times the permitted levels of plasticisers. These items were bought on Taobao, JD and Pinduoduo, three big e-commerce sites.
A coalition of NGOs send an open letter to the Consumer Good Forum calling on them to act on their 2020 deforestation commitments
Ten years ago, the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) made a commitment to end deforestation in member companies’ supply chains by 2020. As 2020 approaches, the companies will inevitably miss the deadline. An international coalition of NGOs called this out CGF members and relayed the following expectations in this open letter:
• Communicate a mandatory requirement ensuring suppliers comply with ‘No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation (NDPE) commitments.
• Ensure human rights are respected and compliance with international standards of Free and Prior Informed Consent (FPIC).
• Establish comprehensive, proactive, and transparent monitoring systems that rapidly detect non-compliance across supply chains and require implementation of the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA) for agricultural development involving land-use change. Assessments should use the Integrated High Conservation Value (HCV)- HCSA Assessment Manual and be approved by the High Conservation Value Resource Network (HCVRN) Quality Review Panel before development
• Publish guidelines to address non compliances, including thresholds for suspension and grievance mechanisms
• Provide incentives and support to upstream suppliers to manage risk
• Publish public facing reports on progress
A new report by Human Rights Watch finds that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is a lucrative business largely driven by criminal networks that threaten and attack government officials, forest defenders and indigenous people who try to stop them.
Indonesia is facing its worst annual fire season since the tragedy of 2015. Close to 700 hotspots have been identified in fire-prone regions in Sumatra, Kalimantan and the Riau islands.
Fires are raging at a record rate in Brazil's Amazon rainforest, and scientists warn that it could strike a devastating blow to the fight against climate change. According to INPE, more than 1½ soccer fields of Amazon rainforest are being destroyed every minute of every day and the fires are burning at the highest rate. Environmental activists and organisations accuse Brazil's president -Jair Bolsonaro of relaxing environmental controls in the country and encouraging deforestation.
The OECD is drawing up a set of criteria that will define a ‘sustainable’ plastic from a chemical perspective. The criteria will promote the design of products with sustainable chemistry in mind at each stage of the lifecycle of plastics – feedstocks, production and manufacturing, product use and end-of-use – as well as assessing the entire product compared to similar non-plastic products. They will also aim to discourage the use of hazardous chemicals. Some recommended tools for business decision makers will be added too. The report will be expected before the end of 2020.
Amazon is investigating the working practices of one of its key suppliers in China - Hengyang Foxconn factory after they were found to have illegally recruited hundreds of student interns aged 16-18, many of whom were also working overtime. These students worked long hours to meet production targets. Those working overtime were only paid the normal hourly rate instead of time-and-a-half which is required by Chinese law and by Amazon’s own supplier code of conduct.
IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems
The IPCC released a special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems. The report addresses greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes in land-based ecosystems, land use and sustainable land management in relation to climate change adaptation and mitigation, desertification, land degradation and food security.
China’s Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM) has completed its consultation on two mandatory guidelines for local authorities that explain how to investigate safety risks at chemical industry parks and hazardous chemical facilities. The guidelines for facilities not only include best practice, it also contains safety checklists. The guidelines for chemical industry parks set out the criteria for authorities to grade them. The next round of activities will focus on reviewing facilities with certain safety issues.
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.
India's top court instructed a garment firm to pay pensions to women who had worked for them from home in the 1990s. There are an estimated 37 million home-based workers across various sectors in India. Besides being denied minimum wages, home-workers get no social security or medical benefits from employers and have virtually no avenue to seek redress for abusive or unfair conditions. The new ruling could set a precedent, helping millions of "invisible" workers access staff benefits.
The European Commission set out a new framework of actions to protect and restore the world's forests, which addresses both the supply and demand side of forest products. It introduces measures for enhanced international cooperation with stakeholders and Member States, promotion of sustainable finance, better use of land and resources, sustainable job creation and supply chain management, and targeted research and data collection. It also launches an assessment of possible new regulatory measures to minimise the impact of EU consumption on deforestation and forest degradation.
On 23 July, the Booksellers Association launched “Green Bookselling: A Manifesto for the BA, Booksellers and the Book Industry”, as part of its ongoing commitment to reducing waste across its membership and throughout the supply chain. The manifesto calls on publishers and distributors to phase out single-use cardboard in favour of recyclable materials and to take up environmental commitments, including reviewing both the delivery and "inherently wasteful" returns processes, and stopping sending out unsolicited book proofs and marketing materials to booksellers.
ECHA has added four new substances to the Candidate List due to their toxicity to reproduction, endocrine disruption and a combination of other properties of concern on 16 July 2019. The four substances are listed below:
1. 2-methoxyethyl acetate
2. Tris (4-nonylphenyl, branched and linear) phosphite (TNPP) with ≥ 0.1% w/w of 4-nonylphenol, branched and linear (4-NP)
3. 2,3,3,3-tetrafluoro-2-(heptafluoropropoxy)propionic acid, its salts and its acyl halides (covering any of their individual isomers and combinations thereof)
The Suzano Pulp and Paper mill in Imperatriz, Maranhão state, Brazil, was inaugurated in 2014 and has an annual production capacity of 1.65 million tons of pulp and 60,000 tons of toilet paper. But a local activist interviewed by the World Rainforest Movement argues that the mill has had negative impacts on the local community.
SPOTT released their 2019 timber and pulp assessment results, which show the tropical forestry sector needs to improve public disclosure of policies and practices. Although average scores were just 20.4%, compared to 31.1% in 2018, companies assessed since 2017 have, on average, increased their score over time, showing some progress towards transparency. A full summary of this year’s assessments is available at this link.