Supermarkets face stricter rules on deforestation-free products

Essential products in supermarkets will “no longer be linked” to illegal deforestation, as the government introduces a ban on businesses with a turnover exceeding £50 million and using over 500 tonnes of regulated commodities annually if sourced from illegally deforested land.

Retailers will also be required to undertake a due diligence exercise on their supply chains and to report on this exercise annually for transparency – which was previously voluntary.

British Retail Consortium director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie welcomes the announcement as it will help supermarkets to “meet their ambitious targets on deforestation” and “enable a greater supply of deforestation-free products in the UK”.

“Tackling deforestation requires global cooperation and we look forward to seeing further detail as to how the legislation will align with European proposals,” Opie added.

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Last week, major UK supermarkets wrote an open letter arranged by WWF to prime minister Rishi Sunak demanding that he keep products contributing to deforestation out of UK stores.

While the letter applauded government’s actions of adopting the Environment Act in 2021, however described it “senseless” to allow products from illegal deforestation to continue reaching supermarket shelves.

WWF CEO Tanya Steel said that the policy is an “important first step” to removing illegal deforestation of UK shopping shelves.

“However illegal deforestation is only part of the picture – with wildlife numbers plummeting and wild habitats facing destruction, we must stop felling forests, full stop.

“Forests absorb 30% of the carbon we emit from burning fossil fuels, so nature is clearly our greatest ally in tackling climate change,” Steel added.

“We haven’t a moment to lose to bring our world back to life and these measures must be implemented in Parliament as swiftly as possible.”

Nature and the environmentNewsPolicyRetail

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