Navigating the EUDR: A Guide for Operators & Traders 

Uncertain about navigating the EUDR's complexities? This guide equips Operators & Traders with the knowledge and tools to ensure compliance and build a sustainable supply chain. Discover how traceability solutions can empower your business to thrive under the new EU Deforestation Regulation.
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The European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), implemented in June 2023, has transformed the playing field for businesses dealing with commodities like cattle, cocoa, and palm oil. As an Operator or Trader in this market, understanding the EUDR and its implications for your business is crucial to ensure compliance and navigate this evolving landscape. This guide is here to equip you with the knowledge and tools to confidently navigate these new regulations. We’ll explore the key challenges you might face, along with how traceability solutions can empower you to meet EUDR requirements, build a sustainable supply chain, and ultimately, thrive in this evolving landscape. 

Key Takeaways 

  • Understanding the EUDR and Its Significance 
  • The Roles of Operators & Traders under the EUDR 
  • Key Challenges for Operators & Traders under the EUDR 
  • EUDR (Article 8) requirements for Operators and non-SME traders 
  • TraceX Traceability solutions for EUDR 

Understanding the EUDR and Its Significance 

The EUDR focuses on seven key commodities – cattle, cocoa, coffee, palm oil, soya, wood, and rubber – and their derived products. It essentially mandates that these products placed on the EU market, or exported from the EU, must be demonstrably deforestation-free. This means they cannot be linked to recent deforestation (after December 31, 2020) or breaches of local environmental laws in the countries where they are produced. 

The EUDR holds significant weight due to the EU’s position as a major global consumer of these commodities. By requiring deforestation-free products, the regulation aims to: 

  • Reduce the EU’s contribution to global deforestation: The EU’s consumption habits are linked to deforestation in various regions. The EUDR aims to break this link and incentivize sustainable practices throughout the supply chain. 
  • Promote responsible sourcing: By requiring companies to demonstrate the origin and legality of their products, the EUDR encourages responsible sourcing practices across the globe. 
  • Protect biodiversity and ecosystems: Forests play a vital role in maintaining biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. The EUDR contributes to the conservation of these critical resources. 

Ensure EUDR Compliance with Confidence

The Roles of Operators & Traders under the EUDR 

The EUDR applies to various actors within the supply chain, with specific responsibilities for Operators and Traders: 

  • Operators: These are businesses that place the aforementioned commodities or derived products on the EU market for the first time. This could include importers, producers, processors, and retailers. Operators have the primary responsibility of ensuring their products are deforestation-free and conducting due diligence throughout their supply chains.

As per the EUDR official text,  

Operator is 

“Any natural or legal person who places on the market or exports relevant products in the course of a commercial activity”. 

Let us take an example: 

For example, if Company X, based in Ghana, exports cocoa butter to Europe, and Company A, based in the EU, imports it, the EUDR would consider only Company A as an operator. Additionally, if Company B, also based in the EU, uses that cocoa butter to produce chocolate and places it on the market, Company B will be considered an operator because it has created a new product with a different HS code from the original cocoa butter. Finally, Company C, based in the EU, which buys chocolate from Company B and exports it outside Europe, also qualifies as an operator. 

  • Traders: These are businesses that buy or sell the covered commodities or products within the EU, without necessarily placing them on the market for the first time. While Traders have less responsibility than Operators, they are still obligated to obtain information from their suppliers about the compliance status of the products they trade. 

As per the EUDR Official text, 

Trader is: 

“Any [natural or legal] person in the supply chain, other than the operator, who makes relevant products available on the market in the course of a commercial activity”. 

Considering an example, 

With respect to the cocoa companies, Company D, which buys chocolate from Operator B in the EU and distributes it to supermarket chains without transforming it, is considered a trader. 

Understanding these roles and their respective responsibilities under the EUDR is the first step for Operators and Traders to navigate the new regulations effectively. 

The EU Deforestation-free Regulation mandates that operators and non-SME traders must carefully examine their supply chains to ensure that the relevant commodities are not associated with deforestation, forest degradation, or illegal activities. This involves gathering necessary information, performing a risk assessment, and submitting a due diligence statement. Conversely, SME traders are only required to retain specific information about their supply chains and provide it to market operators or authorities upon request. 

Key Challenges for Operators & Traders under the EUDR 

The EUDR presents a complex landscape for Operators and Traders, demanding a shift in sourcing practices and record-keeping.  

1. Ensuring Deforestation-Free Sourcing: 

  • Pinpointing the Origin of Commodities: Verifying the origin of commodities across potentially complex supply chains with multiple actors can be difficult. The EUDR requires going beyond traditional documentation and demonstrating actual deforestation-free status. 
  • Opaque Supply Chains: Many Operators and Traders, particularly those dealing with smallholder farms or geographically dispersed suppliers, might lack complete transparency within their supply chains. This makes verifying deforestation-free practices a challenge. 
  • Verifying Deforestation-Free Status: Operators need robust mechanisms to ensure the commodities they source are not linked to recent deforestation. This might involve satellite imagery analysis, geospatial data verification, and on-the-ground verification procedures. 

2. Fulfilling Due Diligence Obligations: 

  • Effective Risk Assessments: Identifying high-risk regions based on deforestation rates and historical data is crucial for prioritizing due diligence efforts. Operators need to develop risk assessment frameworks that consider factors like the commodity, supplier location, and potential environmental vulnerabilities. 
  • Supplier Audits and Data Collection: Conducting thorough audits of suppliers to verify their practices and collecting comprehensive data on sourcing locations and compliance measures can be a time-consuming and resource-intensive process. 
  • Data Management: The EUDR mandates maintaining extensive documentation on sourcing, supplier audits, and risk assessments. Operators and Traders need robust systems for data storage, management, and retrieval to ensure compliance during audits by relevant authorities. 

3. Meeting Compliance Deadlines: 

  • Implementation Timeline: While the EUDR came into effect in June 2023, companies were given an 18-month grace period to implement the necessary due diligence procedures. However, ensuring full compliance within this timeframe can be challenging, especially for businesses with complex supply chains. 
  • Adapting Existing Practices: The EUDR necessitates changes in sourcing practices, record-keeping, and communication with suppliers. Adapting existing workflows and internal procedures to comply with the regulation can be a significant undertaking. 

EUDR (Article 8) requirements for Operators and non-SME traders 

Data Collection 

This involves collecting detailed information about the journey of your products. This data should include the geographical location where the raw materials were initially grown or harvested (e.g., farm, plantation) and the timeframe of this primary production. 

Risk Assessment 

Once you have gathered the supply chain data, the next step is to analyze it to assess the risk of your products being linked to deforestation, forest degradation, or illegal activities (including human rights violations). This assessment should determine whether the risk is “non-negligible” (meaning there’s a real possibility of these issues) or “negligible” (meaning the risk is very low). 

– Non-negligible Risk: If the assessment identifies a non-negligible risk, you cannot simply place the products on the market. Instead, you must take steps to mitigate (reduce) these risks before they become compliant with the EUDR. 

– Negligible Risk: If the assessment finds either negligible risk or no risk at all, your products are considered compliant with the EUDR and can be freely marketed. 

Risk Mitigation 

If you identify non-negligible risks during your assessment, you need to take action to reduce them to a negligible level. This might involve: 

  • Obtaining More Information: You may need to request further details from your suppliers or conduct additional research to gain a clearer picture of their practices. 
  • Independent Verification: Consider independent surveys, laboratory analysis of materials, or field audits to confirm your suppliers’ claims and identify any potential issues. 
  • Supplier Training: Providing training programs for your suppliers can help improve their practices and reduce deforestation risks throughout your supply chain. 
  • Supply Chain Interventions: Depending on the identified risks, you may need to implement interventions within your supply chain to promote sustainable practices and eliminate illegal activities. 

How Traceability Solutions Can Help Operators & Traders Navigate the EUDR  

The challenges posed by the EUDR can seem daunting, but innovative traceability solutions like TraceX can be a game-changer for Operators and Traders.  

1. Traceability for Source Verification: 

Traceability solutions like TraceX create a transparent map of your supply chain, allowing you to track commodities from their origin (farms, plantations) all the way to the final product on the shelf. This granular level of detail offers several benefits: 

  • Pinpointing Origin with Precision: TraceX utilizes blockchain technology to track the movement of commodities throughout the supply chain. The digital ledger technology (blockchain) creates an immutable record of origin. 
  • Verifying Deforestation-Free Status: The platform integrates with various data sources like satellite imagery and geospatial information. This allows you to verify if the source locations of your commodities are free from recent deforestation. By analysing historical and real-time deforestation data, you can identify potential risks and ensure your products meet EUDR requirements. 

2. Streamlining Due Diligence: 

Due diligence is a cornerstone of EUDR compliance, and traceability solutions can significantly simplify this process: 

  • Risk Assessment Made Easy: TraceX solutions can analyse various factors like commodity type, supplier location, and deforestation rates to automatically generate risk profiles. This allows you to prioritize due diligence efforts and focus your resources on high-risk areas within your supply chain. 
  • Enhanced Supplier Communication: The platform facilitates communication and data exchange with suppliers. You can share compliance requirements and request relevant documentation electronically, streamlining the data collection process. 
  • Centralized Data Management: The solution also provides a central platform to store and manage all data related to your due diligence efforts, including supplier information, audit reports, risk assessments, and geospatial data. This eliminates the need for scattered spreadsheets and ensures easy access to information during audits. 

3. Meeting Compliance Deadlines: 

The EUDR compliance deadline can feel tight, but traceability solutions can help you meet it efficiently: 

  • Automated Data Collection: TraceX automates data collection processes, reducing manual effort and saving valuable time. This allows you to focus on strategic aspects of compliance rather than time-consuming data entry. 
  • Scalability for Complex Supply Chains: It is a scalable solution that can adapt to the complexity of your supply chain, regardless of size or geographical reach. Whether you deal with a few large suppliers or a network of smallholder farms, the platform can manage the data efficiently. 

By leveraging these capabilities, traceability solutions empower Operators and Traders to overcome the challenges associated with the EUDR.  

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Conclusion 

The EUDR may seem like a complex hurdle, but it presents a valuable opportunity for Operators and Traders to become part of the solution for deforestation. By embracing traceability solutions like TraceX, you can navigate the EUDR maze with confidence. Traceability solutions empowers you to ensure deforestation-free products, streamline compliance efforts, and build a more sustainable future for your business and the environment.  

Take the first step towards responsible sourcing today.

Contact us for a personalized demo to see how TraceX can help your business thrive in the new regulatory landscape.

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