UK's Confederation of Paper Industries debunks claims of tissue product shortages due to new EU deforestation legislation; group says new regulations don't come into effect until 2024, won't affect majority of wood-pulp based tissue products sold in UK

Sample article from our Tissue & Hygiene

May 10, 2023 (press release) –

CPI is aware that a number of recent press articles are suggesting a potential shortage of tissue products as a direct result of the forthcoming EU Deforestation Legislation (EUDR). 
 
We can state that this is not the case – the following points are to set the record straight and inform any subsequent discussions:

  • UK and European Timber Regulation (TR).  Manufacturers, importers and distributers of wood-pulp based producers (including tissue) are already required to comply with the legal requirements of the Timber Regulations that prevent product manufactured from illegally harvested material being placed on the market.  This legislation has been in place since 2013 and has been warmly welcomed by the industry.  
  • EU Deforestation Regulations (EUDR).  The EU is in the process of replacing EUTR with new requirements (EUDR) that requires a number of sectors to examine their supply chains and ensure they contain no products originating from land that has been illegally converted from forest, or where the production has caused forest degradation.  The sectors covered by this new legislation are: coffee, cocoa, soy, palm oil, cattle (beef & leather), timber/timber products and rubber.  Detailed compliance rulers are still be set, but for larger companies it’s expected the new legislation will not be in force until the start of December 2024.     
  • The existing situation.  The overwhelming majority of wood-pulp based tissue products sold in the UK are made from softwood fibres harvested in Europe or North America and hardwood fibres from South America.  These softwood fibres are from conifers predominantly planted specifically as a timber crop; while hardwood fibres are from plantation grown eucalyptus – they are not taken from tropical rainforests.  All harvesting is legal and approved by the relevant local authorities, with management and replanting plans for all harvesting areas.  
  • The new situation.  Once the new EUDR scheme is instigated, companies placing regulated products onto the EU market will need to comply.  Essentially the new requirement will for geo-tag based recording of all harvesting sites and an assessment to prove that the harvesting has not resulted in the permanent loss of the land to forestry or that the overall forest has not been permanently degraded by the harvesting.  How these assessments will be carried out and recorded is still being designed, but we are confident that pulp supply mills will instigate revised systems to comply with the new rules that are still around 18 months away.  Companies making tissue already work closely with pulp suppliers to ensure the sustainability of their product.   
  • Implications for the UK.  The UK (via Defra) is also developing new requirements for supply chains to prevent product from illegally cleared land entering the UK market.  Products covered are: beef, cocoa, coffee, leather, maize, palm oil, rubber and soy.  Pulp and paper is excluded from the UK requirements, because the UK Timber Regulations have been in place since 2013 and remain in force.  
  • Why could a new EU law affect the UK?  Most of the tissue used in the UK is manufactured here, either from recycled paper or imported pulp, with large volumes of manufactured product also being imported from the EU.  Much of the imported pulp is either manufactured in the EU (frequently Scandinavia) or imported via the EU.  Depending on the route of import this product may be required to comply with the new EUDR laws (once in force) before it reaches the UK.

More generally paper manufacturing is not a major cause of forest clearance – the main cause being clearance for agriculture or other economic development.  Harvesting of trees is fully compatible with multi-purpose forestry with the income from harvesting being an important incentive for land to be kept as forest.  Indeed, the amount of forested land continues to increase in Europe and the UK, with the generation of a sustainably harvested resource frequently being an important design feature of new planting.  Harvesting timber products has been integral to forest management throughout history.  

 
While all paper-based products on the UK market already comply with the UK Timber Regulations – meaning legal harvesting is assured – consumers can go further and purchase product marked as independently certified (normally by FSC or PEFC) that signifies that environmental concerns have been met when the wood fibres were harvested with product originating from well managed forests.    
 
Andrew Large (CPI Director General) commented:
 
“It’s really concerning to see uninformed comments resulting in stories suggesting there may be shortages of tissue products in supermarkets.  As tissue is such a bulky product, it only takes a few more purchases than normal to make shelves look bare and raise concerns for other shoppers that can result in panic buying.  CPI Members and their workforce worked tirelessly through Covid-19 to keep shelves stocked and consumers supplied with this basic product.  

“Nothing has changed and there’s no shortages of tissue products.  We’re confident it will stay that way!”             

ENDS

CPI is the leading trade association representing the UK’s Paper-based Industries, comprising paper and board manufacturers and converters, corrugated packaging producers, makers of soft tissue papers, and collectors of paper for recycling.

CPI represents an industry with an aggregate annual turnover of £11.5 billion, with 56,000 direct and a further 93,000 indirect employees.

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Dan Rivard
- VP Market Development -

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