The UK government has proposed a new law that would require large businesses to prove that their supply chains for commodities (including beef, cocoa, palm oil and soya) do not contain products that have been produced on illegally deforested land. The proposals would cover commodities embedded within other products, such as animals fed on soy or palm oil used as an ingredient.
The government would have the power to fine businesses covered by the regulation if they either use illegally-produced commodities or fail to demonstrate that they have a robust due diligence system in place. The proposals would only cover businesses that exceed a threshold of employee numbers and turnover, so that the regulatory burden on smaller businesses is minimised.
A consultation on the proposals is open until 5 October 2020.
Media coverage and reactions include:
- The Guardian: UK sets out law to curb illegal deforestation and protect rainforests
- BBC: Climate change: New UK law to curb deforestation in supply chains
- The Financial Times: UK companies face fines for links to illegal deforestation
- Greenpeace: Defra’s proposed new law to curb deforestation is seriously flawed. Elena Polisano, forests campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said “There is also nothing in the proposals to address the fact that some commodity producers may have one ‘sustainable’ line but continue to destroy forests elsewhere. This just shifts the problem into someone else’s backyard. We will never solve deforestation for commodities like animal feed soya and palm oil without tackling demand.”
- Helen Munday, chief scientific officer at the UK Food and Drink Federation, told The Grocer that the proposals “still leave a lot of questions to be answered” and that “This will be quite an undertaking even for some of the biggest companies, so they need time to prepare for that”.