New report reveals the real cost of a summer BBQ

by Search Gate staff. Published Mon 10 Aug 2016 10:03
Report reveals the damaging cost of charcoal
Report reveals the damaging cost of charcoal

As temperatures soar across Europe this summer millions have enjoyed barbecues although a new report warns few are aware of the true cost of the charcoal they fire them with.

Around 70 per cent of the charcoal used in Europe is imported and Namibia is the UK’s biggest supplier of charcoal. Today campaign group Fern released a report, “Playing with Fire: human misery, environmental destruction and summer BBQs”, showing that in Namibia:

- Trees are being illegally harvested on a vast scale to make charcoal.

- Workers are operating in deplorable conditions. Many of them live in black plastic sheet dwellings without access to running water or toilets.

- They make the charcoal in archaic kilns, which evidence shows cause massive damage to the environment - as well as to the workers’ health.

The reason the UK imports so much of its charcoal - around 90 per cent - is simple: big retailers buy in bulk from countries where production and labour costs are low. A ton of charcoal produced in the UK costs around £1,400 wholesale. The price in Namibia is less than six per cent of that (£76).

Charcoal imports - not just from Namibia but also Nigeria and other major suppliers to the EU – fit a pattern of illegality highlighted by Fern in March, when it published the report, “Stolen Goods: The EU’s complicity in illegal tropical deforestation”.

The evidence showed how European consumption is fuelling the illegal destruction of tropical forests, with the EU importing an estimated EUR six billion worth of agricultural products grown or reared on illegally deforested land in a single year.

Fern has outlined the steps the EU can take to tackle this, including greater scrutiny of supply chains, a broad EU Action Plan on Deforestation and strengthened procurement policies.

With charcoal, specific steps that would ensure its legality include adding it to the list of products falling under the European Timber Regulation (EUTR), which requires all timber and timber products placed on the EU market to be legally sourced.

Fern campaign co-ordinator Saskia Ozinga said: “If charcoal was to come under the EUTR, then, combined with European consumers paying a fairer price for Namibian charcoal, this would support Namibia in putting controls in place to ensure charcoal’s legality and help increase its capacity to enforce its own laws.”



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