|The Lacey Act Amendment and What It Means for You|
The most recent amendment to the Lacey Act puts a new burden on print buyers to ensure that the sources of imported paper are properly traced and documented.
When the Lacey Act was originally signed into law in 1900, it was the first major piece of conservationist legislation. It was intended to stem the trade and commerce of threatened and endangered wildlife.
It has been modified over the years, most recently in 2008 when, as part of the Farm Bill, it was amended to include the “prohibition of commerce, domestic and international, of products containing illegally sourced plants and plant products” (such as paper).
The new law became effective May 22, 2008, although one of its requirements, an import declaration form, is being phased in and will not be enforced for paper until April 1, 2010.
How the Lacey Act Will Affect Paper
The Lacey Act now makes it unlawful to “import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce any plant taken or traded in violation of the laws of a U.S. State, or most foreign laws.”
For the paper and printing industry, the law affects all those who use paper, but has specific requirements for those who import paper, purchase imported paper, sell imported paper, print on imported paper (us!), or obtain final ownership of the imported paper (you!).
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which will continue prosecuting violators of the Lacey Act, expects companies to perform “due care” in determining the origin of the paper products they use. Elements of “due care” include, but are not limited to, chain of custody certifications, country of origin, types of species, and supplier reputation.
How Will You Know the Paper You Purchase Complies with the Lacey Act?
Starting in April 2010, importers will be required to complete an import declaration form for paper (already required for raw wood) that species the genus, species, country of origin, and the amount of each plant component. Note that the requirement for paper products containing recycled content is that it must include the average percent of recycled content.
At Lane Press, we are actively ensuring that each of our paper suppliers either currently are or by the deadline will be in total compliance relative to the paper we purchase, including maintaining the proper documentation. For customers who control their own paper (either customer purchased or customer directed through an outside print buyer), the compliance verification will be the customer’s responsibility.
What Are The Consequences for Violations?
The DOJ expects companies to perform “due care” in determining the origin of the paper products they use. Due care is defined as “that degree of care which a reasonably prudent person would exercise under the same or similar circumstances.” There is no “innocent owner provision” in the ruling. That is, claiming they “didn’t know about it” won’t get companies off the hook.
Consequences depend on the magnitude of the violation and the level of “due care” taken. Companies in violation are subject to fines up to $500,000 and forfeiture of the imported products.
A Boon for Chain-of-Custody Certified Paper?
Existing chain-of-custody certification programs (FSC, SFI, PEFC) already have systems in place to monitor socially and economically responsible forest harvesting and to track the source of paper back to its original forests. Therefore, the passage of this amendment may further enhance the value of and demand for chain-of-custody-certified wood.