By Daniel Hunter
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is stepping in to advise member retailers how they can prepare for a major new piece of European legislation because official guidance isn't being provided early enough.
The overview document will save members money by helping them deal more efficiently with the new laws.
The European Union's Timber Regulation will apply from 3 March 2013 with guidance expected this summer. It makes it an offence to put products using illegally harvested timber onto the EU market and requires companies selling timber and timber products to have systems in place to prove where the material came from.
The rules apply extensively, not only to products made of wood but also to some made of paper. Retailers will have to meet the same standards for products they use as well as those they sell. That means they will need to know the source of wood and paper used in display shelves and till rolls, for example.
Many wood and paper products use timber from a number of sources. For a notebook consisting of blank pages, a cover and a cardboard base there could be three different pulp mills involved, all using several forests for their raw material. The complexity of the supply chain means retailers need to start preparing for the change in law now.
The BRC, along with a number of key retailers, has conducted workshops and put together a guidance document for all members to help them start getting their systems in order.
"The new EU timber rules amount to one of the most substantial pieces of legislation affecting the retail supply chain we've ever faced," British Retail Consortium Head of Sustainability, Catherine Pazderka, said.
"British retailers have an outstanding record on using ethical and sustainable materials but it will still take companies many months to work through all the products they sell and materials they use in-house to establish they have the required documentation.
"Other European countries should be brought into line with the UK on sustainable sourcing but it's a shame the EU hasn't paid attention to all the practicalities. The official guidelines are due out so late that retailers would have to rush the process which will cost them more. Thanks to work with its members, the BRC's able to help retailers take steps now to prepare for the law change, so they can do it efficiently and effectively."
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