Buyers told to cut out illegally sourced wood risk

8 March 2012

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8 March 2012 | Angeline Albert

Procurement staff are being urged to act now to avoid facing criminal charges for breaching incoming European law on illegally sourced timber.

The Timber Trade Federation (TTF), an organisation representing the timber and wood products supply chain, has issued a warning to buyers to prepare now for the European Timber Regulation (EUTR) which require anyone handling wood or wood products to conduct due diligence that the goods are not from an illegal source.

The EUTR requires that this due diligence take place prior to purchase, even if the product is from a certification scheme such as the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

The EUTR, which comes into force on 3 March 2013, has been designed to help combat the threat of illegal timber (trees cut down without permission and not sustainably managed) entering the EU market. Fines and seizure of goods are among the penalties linked to non-compliance with the regulation.   

The EUTR requires buyers to record the supplier, the tree species, country of origin, volume of timber bought and record the buyer’s risk assessment of the timber product which should be audited by a third party.    

With long lead times on certain products, the TTF is warning companies to ensure they can guarantee compliance with the regulation which requires due diligence relating to all timber products, except for paper.

John White, chief executive of the TTF, said: “Even products purchased before March 2013 will be caught by the regulation if they are sold after that date.”

The TTF has developed a Responsible Purchasing Policy (RPP) to help companies prepare for the EUTR and provides this as a compulsory, free, benefit of membership to TTF. Buyers are being urged to visit the TTF website for more guidance and to implement the RPP guidelines.

White said: “Procurement teams, retailers and others should make sure they understand the implications and have the systems in place to ensure their own suppliers are compliant. One quick check is to look for TTF membership and evidence of the RPP logo.”

Head of communications at TTF David Hopkins said: “We’re firing off a warning shot that there is one year to go before the regulation becomes law.”

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