New EU initiative on deforestation could increase businesses’ due diligence requirements

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This month, the EU Commission announced the adoption of three new green initiatives that could see tighter rules for companies importing products to the EU market.

Significantly, the Commission proposes the introduction of new regulation to curb EU-driven deforestation and forest degradation. The ambition is to guarantee that the products EU citizens consume – that include commodities like soy, beef, palm oil, wood, cocoa and coffee – do not contribute to global deforestation via agricultural expansion.

To achieve this, companies placing these commodities on the EU market (Operators)  would face mandatory due diligence rules. Companies will have to ensure that:

1. Those commodities and products have not been produced on land deforested or degraded after 31 December 2020.

2. They have been produced in accordance with the laws of the country of production.

A key requirement will be to collect the geographic coordinates of the land where the commodities they place on the market were produced. 

Obligations for operators will vary according to the level of risk of the country or region of production, with simplified due diligence duties for products coming from low-risk and enhanced scrutiny for high-risk areas.

The Commission – who intend to engage and act together with other big consumer countries – argue that ‘by promoting the consumption of ‘deforestation-free’ products and reducing the EU’s impact on global deforestation and forest degradation, the new rules are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss‘.

For more information read the Commission’s FAQs or read the proposed new regulation in full.

The second initiative focuses on restricting the waste exports to non-OECD countries, and monitoring waste shipments to OECD countries to ensure they do not generate serious environmental problems.

Lastly, the new EU Soil Strategy, which aims to increase the soil carbon in agricultural land, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil.

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