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WRI and WBCSD Update Guide to Sustainable Procurement of Wood and Paper-Based Products

Today, WRI and the WBCSD release an update to the guide “Sustainable Procurement of Wood and Paper-Based Products.” The guide is meant to help company managers—who are charged with making large purchases of wood and paper products but may not have the time or the knowledge to navigate all the different resources— as they develop and implement their procurement policies.

What’s new?

We have updated the sections on legality and the listing of useful resources, which we call the “guide to the guides." The 12 resources that we highlighted when the guide was first published three years ago have now increased to 47. Resources include publications, projects, rating systems, procurement policies that help people develop and implement forest procurement policies. The updated “guide to the guides” helps people cut through the clutter: It provides information on where the different resources exist, the type of products they cover, the issues they focus on, and who has developed each resource.

We try to provide concise information for a general overview so that readers know who they are getting advice from and on what, and where they can find additional information. We believe well-informed buyers will make better procurement decisions, which can help grow the market for sustainably sourced wood and paper-based products.

Why does this update emphasize the legality of forest products?

With the 2008 amendment to the U.S. Lacey Act and the passing of the EU Illegal Timber Regulation (EUTR) in 2010, companies are concerned about making sure their products are of legal origin. And with the emergence of legality requirements comes the emergence of providers that seek to verify the legality of different products.

The updated guide reflects these latest trends. It provides procurement managers with information on key aspects and explains the different resources and legality assurance systems that are available. It also provides more detailed information on species protected by CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

We also provide a summary of public procurement policies. In many countries governments are very significant buyers and consumers of paper and wood products, and they are becoming more interested in the legality of these products and where they come from.

What do we recommend that buyers know about legality?

First, forest products are not inherently bad. In fact, if they come from sustainably managed forests, they can help maintain many of the benefits that forests provide, while providing a recyclable and renewable industrial resource. The most important thing is to know with a higher degree of certainty where your products come from. Knowing the origin of wood and paper can help you determine risk, because some areas of the world are more problematic than others and therefore require more attention and due diligence.

Secondly, it’s worth companies’ time to develop a good procurement policy and implementation strategy. A well thought-out policy will save you from potential public relations and reputational challenges. It can also help you respond more effectively to investor information requests and give you some peace of mind that you will have a sustainable supply of the products you need to run your business.

The information in this guide can help people ask more informed questions of their suppliers so that there aren’t surprises down the line and so they don’t commit to a certain policy without realizing some of the implications.

For more information contact:

Ruth Noguerón, WRI
James Griffiths, WBCSD

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