EUTR perspectives - The view of the beverage carton industry

Albane Siramy, Environmental Affairs Manager at the Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE): "Certification schemes – a tool for compliance – The view of the beverage carton industry"

For beverage carton manufacturers, SIG Combibloc, Elopak and Tetra Pak, and their paperboard suppliers, Stora Enso and Korsnäs, responsible sourcing is both a business imperative and an environmental requirement. The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE), which provides a European platform for this sector on environmental matters, is very supportive of the recently adopted EU Timber Regulation which bans illegally logged products from European markets. This legislation is not only crucial to protect global forests but also biodiversity. "This legislation is one of the few legal instruments the EU has for tackling biodiversity loss", Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, a member of the European Parliament's Environment Committee, said at a workshop jointly organised by ACE and WWF ahead of the regulation's adoption in 2010.

In 2007, ACE's beverage carton manufacturers committed themselves to a full traceability of the fibers used worldwide in the manufacture of beverage cartons. This chain-of-custody commitment is an independently verified system whereby our wood fibres are traced back to their forest of origin.

In 2010, Proforest, ACE's independent auditor, reported that 78% of the fibres purchased by the three companies were FSC certified or FSC controlled wood, and that 63% of beverage converting plants had a FSC chain-of-custody certificate worldwide.

ACE believes that its chain-of-custody commitment is an example of the "due diligence" system which the EU's illegal logging regulation requires businesses to introduce. ACE therefore calls for recognition in the forthcoming implementing rules that such independently audited and verified timber products are deemed compliant with the legislation. This is crucial for leading industry players that have invested in certification systems which are recognised worldwide as evidence of responsible forest management practices. Reaching the broader sustainability objectives of forest certification requires significant input of resources. If, in addition to this, buyers are required to significantly expand capacity to double check traceability and/or validity of legality for certified products, this would divert them from forest certification because of the significant increase in administrative costs, and would hamper the uptake of sustainable forest management standards. ACE believes this would contradict with the ultimate objective defined in the EU Timber Regulation, EU FLEGT Action plan and UNFCC to promote sustainable forest management practices. 

ACE also calls for a clarification of the due diligence requirements and of the legal interpretation of ‘placing on the market'. A specification of the exemption of recycled materials and scope of exclusion of packaging materials is also needed to ensure that the regulation is properly implemented, and therefore can meet its objectives. 

For further information, please visit ACE's website.

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This article can be found in the latest issue of EFI News, which concentrates on the countdown to the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR). The issue offers points of view from industry, an NGO, the European Commission, a producing country and a trade federation. 

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