Charcoal TFT research

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1 Charcoal TFT research February 2015

2 Charcoal in Europe More than 800,000 tons of charcoal is used in Europe every year. Between 5 and 12 tons of wood are required to produce just one ton of wood-based charcoal. This is why it s important to think about where the charcoal we use comes from and how it was produced. Around 70% of the charcoal used annually in Europe, (570,000 tons of it), is imported. Nigeria is Europe s biggest charcoal supplier, with Namibia, South Africa, Egypt, and Ivory Coast also exporting to Europe. In total, Africa is responsible for 40% of all European charcoal imports. Pie chat above courtesy of FAO Charcoal in France In 2013, the French charcoal market amounted to 130,000 tons per year. Around 70% of it was imported this is around 90,000 tons. French charcoal imports have increased during the last 10 years. This has had a negative effect on local production, as the graph on the following page demonstrates. Around 40% of France s charcoal imports come from Nigeria, either directly or via other countries like Belgium. This is a concern because Nigeria has problems with deforestation. 2

3 Pie chart above is a TFT estimate on which countries export charcoal to France. 3

4 Forests conservation Wood charcoal production isn t the sole cause of deforestation, but Africa is particularly affected by this phenomena. In some specific areas, deforestation is largely caused by wood charcoal production. That s why in 2011, the Nigerian environment council who were concerned about the negative impact charcoal was having on forests - called for stopping the production and exportation of charcoal from their country. This request has been reiterated in 2014, but ignored by local authorities until now. Besides its impact on forests, the wood charcoal business has been known to operate illegally and used to finance conflicts. In 2014, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: "Beyond immediate environmental impacts, the illegal trade in natural resources is depriving developing economies of billions of dollars in lost revenues just to fill the pockets of criminals." Official national exports figures indicate that most African countries only export a few trucks of charcoal per year. This is open to debate. Charcoal traffic is significant in protected areas. Land sat data shows massive illegal logging in several natural reserves, including conflict zones from Democratic Republic of the Congo and in the north of Madagascar, where boats are used to export charcoal. According to estimations the income produced by the illegal charcoal trade in east, west and central Africa is worth up to US$7.4 billion. This represents 2.8 times more than the value of illicit drugs traded in the same region, (UNEP report June 2014). Responsible charcoal In order to address the lack of supply chain transparency in the European and French charcoal market, TFT has developed a system and a set of specific standards to support producers and importers supply responsible charcoal. Transparency in the supply chain All raw wood materials necessary to produce charcoal should be identified and quantified. Wood coming from no deforestation risk forests No wood should come from controversial areas associated with deforestation. Traceability This concerns wood supplies, charcoal production and market delivery. Appropriate working conditions Health and safety conditions should be appropriate for the workers. 4

5 These methods are based on TFT s global approach to supply chains, which has already been used in other commodities, like timber, palm oil, and pulp and paper. This involves a fourstep change journey we call VT-TV. Journey to more responsible products Knowing the supply chain is the first necessary step and TFT s work is divided into two parts: Ground actions and diagnostics in charcoal factories. TFT aims to track all wood supplies back to the forest source. Heighten awareness and engage retailers through more responsible purchases, making recommendations, and providing training and support to establish improved policies. 5

6 Diagram above shows a simplified version of the charcoal supply chain. Transparency is the key Before working in the field TFT carries out supply chain mapping. This mapping includes everyone who supplies the importers, as well as the producers concerned. This helps to identify and prioritise the factories that need to be analysed. The goal is to track the charcoal back to the forest. TFT evaluates deforestation risks in terms of geographical areas of charcoal manufacturing - which relies on satellite data, corruption, types of forests, and certification. A data gathering process is then set up in the factories. This process considers wood origin, and the volumes of wood going in and out of the factory TFT then carries out the on-site diagnostics. In the field, TFT double-checks declared information with data available on site, in order to verify the consistency and compliance of the work. Likewise, working conditions (health and safety) and of course forest management, are also checked during this field assessment. 6

7 The scoring review below raises an instant score, taking into account the information gathered and the assessment. It represents an evaluation of the origins of the wood charcoal. It is then used to propose improvements to the suppliers in order to progress towards better practices in the charcoal supply chain. SCORING : Traceability system s strength Preventing charcoal mixing The mix of local and imported charcoal can also be a problem. Some charcoal producers are actually tempted to mix their own charcoal with low-cost imported charcoal. TFT mitigates against this by charcoal bag picking. This allows us to test the density and visual characteristics of a charcoal sample. These tests generally allow us to identify the origin of the wood used to produce charcoal. 7

8 Tropical wood charcoal: - Higher density - Tropical wood characteristics (no discernible growth) rings) Temperate wood charcoal : - Lower density - Temperate wood characteristics (growth rings) 8

9 The key role of retailers Bigger sales of charcoal are made in food retailer stores, which mostly sell charcoal under their own retailer brand. This business is therefore an essential link in making the sector more responsible. This is why TFT is working side by side with retailers to make them more aware of the significance of marketing charcoal that can be traced through the supply chain to a responsible source. Since 2012 TFT has invited retailers (purchase and quality department), producers and importers to a meeting and debate. The aim is raise further awareness of the issues in the charcoal market and to encourage them to set up action plans to tackle them. These meetings have identified the difficulties in supplying traceable and responsible charcoal. Increasing wood prices have created a critical economic situation for French charcoal manufacturers. This has the potential to cause massive charcoal plant closures in the country even though locally produced charcoal is still the easiest way to reduce deforestation risks associated with the product. But for years, charcoal trade negotiations focused on prices, volumes, bags, but never took into consideration the product: wood charcoal. Conclusion The wood charcoal market is being changed. Thanks to some major commitments from retailers and producers France is now leading a charcoal market with better practices. But there is still work to do. The next step is sharing this approach with other European countries. Mass markets and retailers should confirm their commitments and comply with their wood purchase policies. Some big retailer s brands took strong commitments while others are still resistant to change. Price should not be the only purchase driver for wood charcoal, knowledge of it coming from a responsible source with no links to deforestation or exploitation should be taken into consideration, too. It s particularly important to understand the deforestation risks in the country the charcoal has been imported from. Alternative solutions now exist. We are now working to implement them. 9

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