The global movement toward tissue legality
Wood and pulp legality is becoming a larger concern and will have an impact on tissue suppliers and facilities managers, according to DARRAGN BRENNAN, sustainability manager for Solaris Paper.
If there is one thing which is more apparent daily within the tissue industry, it’s that wood and pulp legality is becoming a far larger concern for many different sectors. This is becoming increasingly true with the current debate surrounding the illegal logging bill, with considerable media coverage being given to aims and potential outcomes of the bill.
While this increased attention will have an impact on many tissue suppliers and facilities managers, it will ensure sustainable forestry is now front of mind for all organisations, and that consumers, artists and designers alike will become more active in the area. However, what is heartening for Australian facilities managers is that many nations, including some our closest neighbours, have already implemented tough wood legality standards.
Many of these also place the emphasis on exporters, which again adds peace of mind to Australian suppliers and purchasers. A great example, and one which is often the focus of environmental campaigners and media attention, is Indonesia.
While it hasn’t been widely publicised, the country has invoked world-leading legality and traceability regimes, and many local companies have been globally recognised for implementing some of the most innovative and effective sustainability policies in the world. The recently introduced SVLK legality standard ensures that all wood and pulp products with the licence have been sourced through legal processes.
While many Indonesian mills have already achieved this standard, it has been stated that all products exported from the nation in 2015 will need to have achieved this standard. This means that no illegally sourced pulp will be in any paper or printing products from the nation. The regulations, which cover licensing, harvesting, transporting and processing, are among the strongest in the world and have been developed to put other nations at ease when importing supplies from Indonesia.
Programs such as this help assure paper purchasers of the sustainable nature of products originating from Southeast Asia, and also mean that companies no longer need to choose between price and environmental sustainability.
AUSTRALIA’S ILLEGAL LOGGING BILL
Back in Australia, the government is taking strides through the illegal logging bill to ensure that all pulp and paper products imported into the country abide by the highest standards. Australian legislators are hoping to put a stop to the importation of any illegally sourced wood and wood products. The Europeans and North Americans are doing the same, albeit in different ways.
The proposed Australian illegal logging law recognises the immense problem of determining if a particular wood product such as paper has been made from illegally sourced wood fibre. It is based on suspicion or the likelihood of a country having an illegal logging industry, rather than any absolute evidence.
However, while the sentiment behind the bill is good, this suspicion based approach may bring out some deep-seeded prejudices we hold against many of our neighbouring countries. For the government, or suppliers for that matter, to overlook the newly adopted schemes in our neighbouring countries (some of which ascribe higher standards than those applied in Australia) would do a major disservice to these countries who have worked hard to implement world-leading legality programs.
HOW TO ENSURE ECO-FRIENDLY PRODUCTS IN THE MEANTIME
So, while the illegal logging bill is further refined and debated in parliament, how can everyone in the industry determine which products are truly environmentally friendly and are safe to be used and sold onto customers?
The best way is to ensure all products you purchase are sourced from countries with an internationally recognised legality regime. For additional comfort, design firms can also look to regimes that place the emphasis on exporters. For example, the US-based Lacey Act places the liability on importers (paper suppliers), whereas the Indonesian SVLK regime places the emphasis on the exporter. This means local suppliers can rest assured that if the products they receive have met this standard, they have already passed a rigorous and respected environmental standard.
With the Illegal Logging Bill shining a greater spotlight on the tissue sector, sourcing environmentally responsible products is becoming more than a moral concern, it is a commercial concern as well. Because of this, it is increasingly important for suppliers, providers, and managers of all facilities to use tissue products which abide by globally recognised and trusted legality standards. The good news for the industry is that these standards are now held by some of our closest neighbours.