Published - 6 Dec, 2023
Industry & services, Forest Industry
Tread carefully in the legislative jungle!
Eco-labels, forest certifications, carbon offsets, SBTs, and now sweeping new legislation on its way from Brussels in the form of the European Regulation on Deforestation-free products (EUDR). There are so many tools, stamps and certificates when it comes to sustainability that navigating your way through what works and what doesn’t can appear something of a legislative jungle.
At Opticom we are interested in the bigger picture as it affects our clients, since being well informed is essential for navigating a path in complicated situations.
How ready will you be? How ready are your customers? Do you know what they’re expecting from you in the journey to compliance? If the answer is no, it could be time to start asking.
The speed with which the European Commission has introduced the EUDR is a reflection of its desire to discourage forest degradation or deforestation, but also of the importance that consumers place on such action: more than a million EU citizens were surveyed before the legislation was passed. That consumers care so deeply about forests should be an opportunity for the forest industry, but the legislation has arrived so quickly that few have had time to reflect on its implications.
The EUDR’s aim is commendable; to eliminate products entering onto the EU market which have a connection to forest degradation or deforestation. It is the execution of the legislation which is currently causing consternation with many industry players concerned that at present the strict traceability requirements are simply going to prove unworkable for pulp mills, and therefore for anyone who buys pulp.
We’re optimists at Opticom! We believe that compromise and solutions will be found which will recognise the inherently green credentials of this industry – this is a business with the forest at the heart of its operations. Still, preparation for a smooth landing will be key when the EUDR arrives.
And what of the consumers? Most probably they will not even be aware of the challenges of compliance, nor are they likely to care about the details. But if the EUDR doesn’t provide the assurance that they can buy fibre products with a clear conscience, what will? FSC? PEFC? An eco label? Something else?
In theory, the ideal scenario might be to collect every sustainability endorsement on offer in the hope one of them will strike a chord. But overload can lead to confusion. How to know what works and what doesn’t? And who for? The value chain is long and complex with different stakeholders needing different messaging (brand owners, retailers and consumers, etc).
It remains to be seen how the EUDR will fit in the already crowded sustainability arena, but we do know that understanding what your customers might need from you is a very good place to start. And that’s where we come in.