Printed paper among products subject to new deforestation rules in the EU

European printing industry association Intergraf welcomes move

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This closes an important loophole that allowed products linked to the degradation and destruction of forests to be sold in the EU

The European Parliament and the European Council have reached an agreement on a new EU law on deforestation-free products, which includes printed paper. All operators placing commodities in the European market that can generate global deforestation will now be subject to mandatory due diligence rules.

PersonalCareInsights reported that placing, making available, or exporting palm oil, soy, beef, coffee, cocoa, timber, and rubber from the EU market may be subject to new rules set out by the provisional agreement. However, the agreement is awaiting formal adoption by both institutions. The rules apply to derivatives used in personal care products featuring palm oil, coffee, soy or cocoa. Other derivatives such as chocolate, furniture, and printed paper, are also subject to the new rules. 

“Operators and traders will have to prove that the products are both deforestation-free (produced on land that was not subject to deforestation after 31 December 2020) and legal (compliant with all relevant applicable laws in force in the country of production),” an EU official told PersonalCareInsights.

This closes an important loophole that allowed products linked to the degradation and destruction of forests to be sold in the EU. Intergraf – the European printing industry association, representing employers in the graphical sector – and its members have been calling for printed products to be included in the scope of this legislation for over a decade.

“The agreement is the result of intense advocacy by Intergraf and our members, alongside other actors including environmental NGOs, to ensure that printed products are covered by the due diligence rules. Paper was already covered by the EU Timber Regulation; therefore, when manufactured in Europe, printed products benefit from the legality check of paper. When imported from outside the EU (in particular from countries that have low or no requirements on illegal logging), there was no guarantee that the paper used was legally sourced,” Intergraf said in a statement.

Without this law, millions of euros worth of printed products enter the European market without protection from illegal logging. Contrary to unprinted paper, printed paper products can be freely imported into the European market regardless of the origin of the paper. Illegal logging and deforestation caused by imported printed products blemish the reputation of our industry in Europe, and the image of our products. The printing industry welcomed the political deal and the extension of the scope of the Deforestation Regulation to printed paper products, the statement said.

“Thanks to Intergraf’s advocacy, the scope of the EU Deforestation Regulation now covers printed products, which was one of the few wood-based products not already covered by due diligence requirements. EU legislators have reached an ambitious agreement that will protect forests globally,” said Ulrich Stetter, president of Intergraf.

“European consumers need to trust that the books or printed items they buy on the European market do not contribute to global deforestation. The inclusion of printed products in the scope of the Deforestation Regulation secures this,” said Beatrice Klose, secretary general of Intergraf.

The strength of the Deforestation Regulation owes to the high ambitions of the European Parliament, in particular Rapporteur Christophe Hansen (EPP, LU). The European Commission had initially presented a limited list of commodities (beef, palm oil, soya, coffee, cocoa, and wood). Because of the European Parliament’s position of extending the scope to further commodities (rubber) and derived products (including printed products), print is now included in the scope of the Deforestation Regulation.

“With the extension of the scope to printed products, the EU’s new Deforestation Regulation closes a significant environmental loophole and will restore some degree of fair competition between European printers and their non-EU competitors – in particular from low-cost countries,” said Laetitia Reynaud, Policy adviser at Intergraf.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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