Regulatory Corner : Understanding the new obligations from the EUTR
Around the world, new obligations are in force for timber and timber derived products in order to eradicate illegal timber
What is illegal timber?
- Illegal timber or logging is the harvesting of wood in a way that breaches the regulations of the country of harvest
- Illegally harvested wood represents between 10 to 30% of all globally traded wood (source WWF, Interpol)
- Illegal timber generates negative impacts: environmental damage (deforestation, loss of biodiversity), financing of armed conflicts and corruption, loss of taxes and revenues for exporting countries and unfair competition
The European Union is the prime destination of illegal wood
With the EUTR, the European Union wants to create greater transparency in timber trade practices
Starting March 3, 2013, placing illegally harvested timber or products derived from illegal timber on the EU market is prohibited.
The EUTR applies to wood and wood products being placed for the first time on the EU market.
A global impact on operators and traders
The regulation will directly affect the EU market with a further reaching global impact, as legislation is applicable regardless of the timber’s origin (EU/non-EU).
It imposes 3 key obligations:
- Prohibition of placing illegal timber or products made of wood from illegal origin on the European Union market
- for EU operators: organizations that place timber products on the EU market for the first time are required to exercise "due diligence" to ensure their timber or derived products are from legal origin
- for traders: those who buy or sell timber and timber products that are already on the European market are required to keep information about their suppliers and customers to ensure the traceability of their timber
The EUTR covers a wide range of timber and paper-based products
Products covered by the EUTR legislation are classified as EU Customs Combined Nomenclature codes, and cover:
- Wood (roundwood, planks, panels, veneer ..)
- Furniture and decorations in wooden materials
- Carpentry and wooden prefabricated buildings
- Pulp and paper (card board, stationery, ...) that are blank, i.e. not printed with content.
- Packaging when sold as a product (not goods that are packaged, but empty packages sold as a product)
The EUTR excludes products that have completed their lifecycle (recycled products) and printed media such as books or magazines.
Some products in the scope of the regulation are everyday life products (packaging, stationery, etc) that are purchased by companies not specialized in the wood or forestry sector.
They are considered as operators in the EUTR when importing these products from outside Europe.
A comprehensive list of products included in the scope can be found on a the EU Timber Regulation 2013 Website
More countries mobilizing to fight back against illegally traded timber
The United States amended the Lacey Act in 2008 to prohibit trade in illegally harvested plants and plant products.
The Australian Senate passed in December 2012 the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Bill, prohibiting the import of illegally logged timber products and the processing of raw logs that have been illegally harvested in Australia.
The Swiss Declaration Requirement, passed in 2011, requires companies to declare species and country of origin.