The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) said May 26 it has formed an alliance with 10 other organizations to strengthen industry opposition to the use of illegally harvested wood.
The Forest Legality Alliance (FLA) is designed to help retailers, importers, distributors, and other supply chain participants comply with trade policies that prohibit the use of unlawfully harvested wood, RILA said. Alliance members include industry associations, financial institutions, and other organizations with a stake in forest product supply chains.
"Retailers are committed to sourcing legally harvested wood in the products they sell," said Stephanie Lester, RILA's vice president of international trade in a statement. "RILA sees the Forest Legality Alliance as an opportunity to work with other stakeholders to tackle the problem of illegal logging in a manner that protects forests around the world while also addressing the challenges of identifying illegal wood in supply chains."
The source of wood products has been a major concern for retailers and importers since 2008, when Congress amended the Lacey Act to prohibit trade in the United States of products made from illegally harvested wood and other plant products. The U.S. Department of Agriculture last year narrowed the list of wood and plant products that are subject to those provisions of the act.
The Forest Legality Alliance will educate importers and other supply chain participants about wood-related trade policies, RILA said. It will also develop online resources that will help companies comply with regulations. Rather than focus on performance of individual companies, the group will work with industries as a whole, according to RILA.
Other members include the World Resources Institute (WRI), the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the American Paper & Forest Products Association, the Hardwood Federation, Ikea, the International Wood Products Association, NewPage Corp., Staples Inc., and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
Meanwhile, RILA announced its support for newly introduced legislation that would increase the value of goods that can be brought into the United States duty free. The Customs De Minimis Adjustment Act of 2010 would raise the duty-free limit to $1,000 from $200.
Kelly Kolb, vice president of global supply chain policy, said that raising the limit on duty-free goods entering the United States would help make it more cost-effective and efficient for businesses to import goods, and create more opportunities for trade while boosting economic growth and lowering prices for consumers.