New EU ecolabel requirements

New EU ecolabel requirements

The European Commission just published new criteria for the EU Ecolabel for graphic paper, tissue paper and tissue products. These include robust requirements for the origin of the fibres used, similar to those FSC applies for its own labels. With this decision, the European Commission has made further steps in improving its sustainable resource criteria for a range of products that contain forest materials.

The EU Ecolabel has existed for 26 years and has become an important tool for producers of certain products to prove their commitment to reducing environmental impacts. Copy and graphic paper and tissue paper are two of the most established categories.

Until this year, the label’s sustainable forest management requirements were modest and not well formulated. This has changed partly due to intensive FSC involvement in consultations. The new criteria require the producers to be certified with a forest certification scheme (“FSC, PEFC or equivalent”) and the products to contain at least 70% certified and/or recycled materials, with the rest to be controlled materials. The combination of two reliable labels such as FSC and the EU Ecolabel can give consumers both the certainty that products are sourced sustainably and produced with fewer environmental impacts.

The publication of these criteria follows a trend established in 2014 to align criteria for relevant product groups with forest certification schemes’ labelling requirements. This resulted in similar decisions for EU Ecolabels for converted paper (2014), wooden furniture (2016) and wooden floor coverings (2017). In the last two cases the scope includes cork, bamboo and in the case of furniture, also rattan. Footwear (2016) has the requirement of 70% certified origin for wood and cork components.

From 2020 it is likely that printed paper, including newspaper, will follow suit (based on the new requirements for graphic paper).

Two other products groups, namely Absorbent Hygienic Products (for flush-pulp) and Textiles (for viscose), have introduced the producer-certification obligation requirement as well, where the minimum share of certified forest origin must be 25% , while the rest has to be controlled wood.

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Source: FSC International, 26 February 2019

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