Insights

Traceability from Forest to Finished Product; What the EUDR Journey Means for our World

by Susan

Parente

With each passing year, the global conversation around sustainability has grown louder and more urgent. From plastic waste to carbon emissions, industries worldwide are being called upon to reassess their practices and prioritize the health of our planet. As a printing company deeply embedded in the publishing industry, Sheridan recognizes the critical role we play in this conversation. That’s why we’re addressing the implications of the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) and outlining our commitment to sustainable printing practices.

So, what is the EUDR?

Set forth by the European Union in the summer of 2023, the EUDR is a regulation aimed at combating deforestation and promoting sustainable sourcing of wood-based products. It mandates stringent requirements for companies involved in the trade of timber and timber products within the EU market. The regulation will be applied on December 30, 2024, and while it directly impacts businesses operating within the EU, its ripple effects will be felt globally, particularly within industries reliant on paper and wood products. Specifically, even though this regulation applies to the EU, any supplier shipping product to the EU must ensure that the product complies as well.

This means that the product (in this case, paper) must have been made from commodities produced on land that has not been converted from forest to agricultural use after December 31, 2020. Further, the trees harvested must be from a forest that didn’t induce forest degradation after December 31, 2020. Bottom line, EUDR targets deforestation that is legal in accordance with the laws of the country of production – complicit with all local social and environmental laws such as land use rights, environmental protection, forest-related rules, forest management and biodiversity conservation.

Sheridan as well as our customers and publishing partners worldwide are keenly interested in initiatives such as these that support environmentally responsible and eco-sustainable practices. At the crux of the EUDR is a commitment to sustainable sourcing – companies must demonstrate the legality and sustainability of their timber and timber products. That means that Sheridan, as a responsible print partner, must ensure not only transparency but traceability within our supply chain. Sheridan’s paper suppliers have long adhered to chain-of-custody practices by obtaining certification through organizations such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative), and PEFC (Programme of the Endorsement of Forest Certification).

Certification Organization Actions and Reactions to EUDR

The FSC has introduced an initiative called FSC EUDR Aligned.  Starting in June 2024, FSC EUDR Aligned will offer their partner companies along the value chain a set of integrated tools they can use to meet EUDR legality, sustainability, and due diligence obligations. Interested FSC certificate holders can apply now to receive these tools and become early adopters of FSC EUDR Aligned. This proactive movement by FSC provides much assurance that FSC-certified papers will meet the EUDR requirements. Here’s a detailed fact sheet on the initiative:  https://fsc.org/en/media/journey-to-enable-eudr-compliance-fact-sheet-1

SFI offers this stance on the EUDR: While SFI acknowledges that “the EUDR presents some challenges, including achieving a clear and common understanding of forest degradation…”, SFI is committed to meeting “the expectations of global regulators and customers while achieving sustainable forest management…” read more here: https://forests.org/sfi-on-the-european-union-deforestation-regulation/

The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) recognizes the EUDR but is concerned that the rule presents severe compliance challenges and imposes excessive burden and technical barriers on the U.S. exporters that pose negative consequences to U.S. producers and American jobs. AF&PA puts forth that the U.S. pulp, paper, and packaging industry is a responsible steward of the planet’s resources. This position stems from data that shows that the U.S. grows twice the volume of trees than is harvested. Examining all the angles that are unique to the U.S., the AF&PA is calling on U.S. officials to work with European trade officials to benchmark the U.S. as a “low risk” origin of deforestation, based on robust U.S. laws, regulations, and extensive third-party certification of sustainable forestry practices.

Common among these organizations, there is a shared concern and a basic request for more specifics on the EU regulations.  Paper mills, too, want more detail to ensure they are addressing the exact geolocation aspect of the wood source. With a handful of months to go before the implementation deadline of December 30th, Sheridan will be keeping up with all developments.

One thing is clear – the EU Deforestation Regulation represents a pivotal moment for the publishing industry, underscoring the growing importance of sustainability and traceability in all aspects of our operations, from sourcing raw materials to printing and distribution. At Sheridan, we embrace every opportunity to champion a more sustainable approach to printing.