New report reveals sham of environmental labels

Environmental groups expressed anger at revelations that illegally harvested wood has found its way into paper awarded with the European Ecolabel.

The environmental group Fern exposed the alleged deceit in a report called “EU Ecolabel allows forest destruction – the case of Pindo Deli”.

The European Ecolabel is meant to award products of environmental excellence but the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) warned that weaknesses in requirements for forest products could lead to such a situation.

The report revealed that operations by Indonesian paper producers Pindo Deli have had devastating impacts on Sumatran rainforests, causing deforestation, threatening endangered species such as the orang-utan and harming the rights of indigenous peoples.

Pindo Deli is part of the controversial Asian Pulp and Paper (APP) company that has been highly criticised by NGOs and the forest certification scheme, the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC).

Lukas Hammer, Ecolabel Coordinator at the EEB said: “Unfortunately, this comes as little surprise. We have been warning that stricter requirements on the origin of forest-related products were needed to avoid having wood from highly controversial sources in Ecolabelled products.”

To get a European Ecolabel license, companies must prove they have obeyed a set of ecological criteria established by the EU, which should guarantee that only the most ecological products on the market are awarded with the Ecolabel.

The EEB said it has long called for fully certified products, with high percentages of wood from sustainable sources and stricter requirements for certification bodies to be involved in such criteria. But they claim to have been largely ignored.