CTI/Our Initiative

The aim of the Charcoal Transparency initiative is to bring more transparency to the entire European charcoal market to actively and efficiently fight against the degradation of our forests and the exploitation of human beings.

As a consumer, you must be informed of what you are buying. Just like when you read the ingredients on food packaging, you can do the same with charcoal. This allows you to learn more about the product's history, ensuring a more responsible choice.

What we evaluate


Forest

 

What

Charcoal production starts with the forest, which provides wood that is used to make charcoal.

Why

Our forests are under threat around the world. It is essential to protect them.

How

By visiting the field, meeting the wood industry in different countries and assessing forest management practices



Production

What

Charcoal is produced around the world in conditions that can be very different from one-another.

Why

Poor production conditions can affect the environment and the quality of the product.

How

By going to the factories, meeting the producers and evaluating their production techniques.



Workers' rights and health and safety

What

Men and women with very different profiles work on making your charcoal bags

Why

The dignity, health and safety of these workers is not always assured.

How

By going to the production site, meeting and discussing with the charcoal workers.



Transparency

What

The product must be able to be traced back to the source, that is to say from the store to the forest.

Why

The charcoal market remains very opaque, bad practices can hide behind a bag of charcoal.

How

Linking all the links in the chain: brands, importers and producers, and working together with all these actors.


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- Forests cover about 30% of all land surface area: 3% of the terrestrial forest cover was lost between 1990 and 2005, mainly in the tropics, and there has been no significant decrease in the rate of deforestation since the last 20 years.

- 1.6 billion people are directly dependent on forests - more than 25% of the world's population - rely on forest resources for livelihoods and most of them (1.2 billion) use agroforestry to produce food and generate income

- 50% of the wood cut in the world is used as fuelwood: 3.7 billion m3 of wood are extracted from forests every year in the world (2015) 1.86 billion m3 of wood is used in fuelwood of which 17% is directly processed into charcoal

- Charcoal production is directly related to forest degradation & deforestation especially in the tropical and subtropical regions of the globe. Most charcoal production takes place in countries where degradation and deforestation are identified as threats to the forest ecosystems of these countries. Forest degradation refers to the reduction of the forest's ability to provide goods and services (FAO 2015) and deforestation means the conversion of forests for other land uses or the permanent or long-term reduction of the forest cover below the 10% threshold.

- It takes between 4 and 12 tonnes of wood to produce one tonne of charcoal, this figure varies depending on the technology used, wood species, moisture content and climatic conditions.

- Charcoal production accounts for 2 to 7% of greenhouse gas emissions emitted by human activities. This is due to unsustainable forest management practices and inefficient and polluting production technologies. The transition from traditional ovens to modern industrial kilns that recycle pyrolysis gases would reduce these GHG emissions.

- World production of charcoal has increased by 19% between 1995 and 2015. World demand for charcoal is likely to increase due to population growth, urbanization and affordable charcoal prices compared to other sources of energy

- In Europe, charcoal is used mainly for barbecuing. In 2017, European Union countries imported 650’000 tonnes of charcoal, 60% of which came from tropical and subtropical areas

The market problem - opacity

In 2012, when The Forest Trust (now Earthworm Foundation) started working on the charcoal market in Europe, opacity was one of the hallmarks of this industry. Today it still exists in different forms and at different links in the value chain; from illegal timber trade to fraud in certification and mainly through lack of information on the bags

Our solution: Transparency

The Earthworm Foundation has actively engaged with many market players. The change towards greater transparency occurred first on the French market, followed by other European markets such as Belgium and Germany. Nowadays, thanks to our efforts and those of these actors, we are seeing a growing demand for responsible charcoal on the European market.