In October 2008, AHEC launched a Responsible Purchasing Policy for Exporters (RPP) to provide a further assurance that U.S. hardwoods exported by AHEC members derive from legal and sustainable sources.
The RPP may be voluntarily adopted by AHEC Members and is designed specifically to respond to: a) the recommendations of the AHEC-commissioned Seneca Creek risk assessment study; and b) the requirements of the Japanese government procurement policy which accepts codes of conduct/procurement policies as suitable evidence of conformance.
Signatory companies to the RPP must endorse the policy at the highest level of management. Key members of staff must be trained and all employees advised of the policy position to ensure implementation. Signatories to the RPP are required to monitor their procurement processes regularly and to verify that suppliers operate in accordance with all applicable international, national and state laws and regulations.
The RPP requires active engagement by signatory companies in various national and state level programmes designed to eradicate illegal logging and promote sustainable forest practices. It requires signatory companies to progressively improve wood tracking systems so that more specific information on the precise forest of origin of their hardwoods can be made available to customers.
AHEC is committed to reviewing substantiated, written complaints about non-conformance with the RPP. AHEC encourages customers, suppliers and AHEC members to resolve complaints between themselves if possible or, where not, provide for independent mediation. Where this fails a complaint may be made formally to the AHEC Board of Directors. If the complaint is upheld, the Board may impose sanctions against the offending member.
The RPP is the first step in a process of progressive development of systems and procedures designed to ensure that American hardwoods continue to be recognised as conforming to the highest sustainability standards.
RPP corporate commitments
The company is required to:
- Ensure that formal contracts exist with contractors to require compliance with applicable laws and regulations and state Best Management Practices (BMPs)
- Encourage landowners/suppliers to use state-approved BMPs and monitor the effectiveness of efforts to promote BMPs using public or private sources of information.
- Encourage landowners/suppliers to utilize the services of qualified resource professionals and qualified logging professionals in applying principles of sustainable forest management on their lands.
- Implement a procedure to assess the risk that procured raw material derives from illegal logging and address any significant risk identified. In the United States, this procedure may be based on the AHEC commissioned study “An Assessment of Lawful Harvesting & Sustainability of US Hardwood Exports” and any follow-up reports commissioned by AHEC.
- Participate in public and private sector initiatives at the state and local level to work collaboratively to reduce the risk of illegal and unsustainable timber harvesting.
- Coordinate with law enforcement and association timber security task forces to investigate and resolve timber trespass and illegal harvesting.
- Encourage the use of existing mechanisms, (such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee Inconsistent Practices provision) to report those that do not adhere to the principles of sustainable forestry.
- Ensure that all exported wood shipments include a clear indication of the country of origin (i.e. the United States unless the product is a re-export) and, as far as possible, the state in the United States where the timber was harvested.
- Progressively increase the proportion of procured American hardwoods that can be tracked to forest of origin.
- Substantiate any claims in relation to the source or environmental credentials of American hardwood products.