• Paper

What are the EU Timber Regulations?

Designed to counter the trade in illegally harvested timber, the EU Timber Regulations (EUTR) came into force earlier this year on 3rd March 2013. 

The regulations require that anyone placing timber or timber products on the market for the first time in Europe is required to have a due diligence system in place to ensure that only legal sources of timber are used.

The new regulations will bring Europe up to speed with the USA, who introduced the Lacey Act to combat illegally harvested timber back in 2008.

In the UK the regulation will be enforced by the National Measurement Office (NMO) who will undertake checks to ensure the enforcement of the regulation and issue penalties for non-compliance.

What types of product are covered?

The regulations apply to a wide range of products from solid timber through to processed wood used in furniture and flooring, wood pellets for fuel and pulp products such as notebooks, serviettes and paper cups.

What about Books?

At the moment the regulation does not cover products where print forms the product's essence – so books, brochures, magazines and newspapers are exempt.  NGOs such as the WWF are campaigning to bring printed materials into the scope and it is believed that the current exemption for books will be lifted by 2016.

Another notable exclusion is recycled wood products where the wood content has completed its life cycle.

Other types of printed paper that fall within the scope are notebooks, diaries and other types of stationery items.  

Links to lists of products affected / not affected are given below :

Does it affect me?

If you produce or sell products that are in the scope then it is likely that you will be affected by the new regulation. 

The requirements differ according to whether you are an “Operator” or a “Trader”.  An “Operator” is anyone who places a timber product on the EU market for the first time (so in a publishing context this could be a company who produces stationery products in the Far East and offers them for sale in Europe).  As an “Operator” you are prohibited from placing timber products on the EU market if they contain wood which was illegally harvested. You must have a due diligence system in place and be able to provide specific information to the authorities and have documented risk assessment and risk mitigation procedures.    Operators can run their own due diligence system or work with a monitoring organisation that is recognised by the European Commission.

A “Trader” is effectively anyone buying or selling timber products which have already been placed on the EU market.  They must keep records that enable traceability for five years.


How can I ensure that the papers I use in my products comply with the new regulations?

Having a due diligence system and access to information is key.

Timber certification schemes such as FSC are very useful tools with regard to the EUTR, particularly with assessing risks of illegality but it is not automatic proof of EUTR compliance.   FSC are currently working to adapt some of their processes to ensure they meet the requirements of the regulation but in the meantime it is necessary to follow full due diligence on FSC certified papers.

Timber products accompanied by a FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade) or CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) licenses are considered to comply.   

PREPS (The Publishers Database for Responsible Environmental Paper Sourcing) members are currently working out a due diligence system that will meet the requirements of the regulation.   More info will be available on this shortly.


Debbie Knight