The EU Timber Regulation
The EU Timber Regulation came into force in March 2013 to curb the trade of illegal timber entering Europe. Businesses across EU member states are required to implement a system of due diligence to ensure timber products imported into the EU have been legally harvested, traded and exported in the country of harvest.
Successful implementation of the regulation is of great importance. Illegal logging leads to widespread biodiversity loss, impacts forest-dependent communities, contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and undercuts legitimate businesses seeking to operate responsibly. It costs governments in timber producing countries between 10 and 15 billion euros per year, which could otherwise be spent on schools, roads and other much needed development.
Our approach to due diligence
As a major importer of timber from around the world, Brooks Bros (UK) Ltd acts as an “Operator” under Regulation. Out of our legal obligations comes an opportunity to engage constructively with our suppliers, providing a solid framework from which to reward good practice.
We have implemented a Due Diligence System which was developed by an EU-approved Monitoring Organisation and tailored this to our businesses to provide us with a steadfast assurance that we would comply with the regulatory requirements.
Due diligence is integrated in our purchasing and company processes. The key steps are:
1). Collect information about the product and supply chain. We work with our supplier to obtain information the species, mapping how the product changes through the supply chain and understanding the nature of the business of each company.
2). Assess the risk of illegal harvesting, trade and export in the country of harvest, as well as the risk of mixing along the complete supply chain. We take into account the research by NGOs and governments, assess gaps in certification schemes, and liaise with a range of stakeholders in country to better understand the legality issues in our supply chain.
3). Mitigate identified risks. Depending on the risks identified, this could include: desk-based audits and document reviews; building our supplier’s due diligence capacity through training; auditing our supplier’s factory, sawmill and/or forest ourselves or hiring third-party experts; implementing a programme of product testing (DNA, isotopic, microscopic etc.) to verify origin or species.
4). Determine the final risk conclusion; only if negligible risk can be concluded can the product be purchased.
Purchasing EU-landed stock
Brooks Bros (UK) Ltd also purchases timber products that have been customs-cleared in the EU. As such, we assume responsibility as a “Trader”. Our obligations are simple: to maintain records of purchases and sales.
For further information, contact:
Environmental Compliance Manager,
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
As a customer of Brooks Bros, do I need to carry out due diligence on products that you sell to me?
No. Brooks Bros (UK) Ltd only sells products that have already physically landed in the UK and are customs-cleared. Therefore you will be acting as a “Trader”. Your only legal obligation is to keep a record of your purchases and sales.
If you implement a voluntary due diligence system, we will do our best to support you. However, we do recommend that you source FSC® or PEFC certified products from us as this is most appropriate market tool in responsible sourcing and provides safeguards beyond legality.
How will Brexit affect Brooks Bros’ Responsible Purchasing Policy?
It won’t. As stated in our environmental strategy and Responsible Purchasing Policy we are committed to sourcing legal and responsible timber. We fully support the intention of the EUTR and will continue to operate a robust due diligence system leading up to and post Brexit.
Will the UK continue to implement the EUTR given Brexit?
Yes, for the foreseeable future.
The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) is enshrined in UK law in the Timber and Timber Products (Placing on the Market) Regulation of 2013. When the UK enacts Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty to leave the EU, it will formally trigger the two-year negotiation process and during this time, the Regulation will remain in force.
After this, the UK will review EU regulations and decide which to keep, amend or repeal. Experts say could take more than 10 years. In any case, there is general consensus among civil society, politicians and businesses, that the regulation will be kept because:
1). If the UK wishes to remain within the single market, it will be required to implement the same environmental laws as EU member states. Take Norway for example, it adopted the EUTR and yet is not part of the EU.
2). The UK has been a key driving force in the creation of the EUTR and FLEGT. And the ‘Regulatory Delivery’, the Competent Authority responsible for enforcing the regulation in the UK, is seen as one of the most active in the EU, working collaboratively with other Competent Authorities to strengthen and harmonise approaches.
3). Similar regulations have been adopted in the US, Australia, and are being developed in other countries including Japan and China. There are many responsible businesses in the UK that have invested in compliance that would want to see the regulation continue to be enforced to ensure a level playing field.
In fact, once the UK leaves the EU, theoretically due diligence requirements could increase – UK businesses may need to additionally carry out due diligence on timber products imports from the EU.