Bob Bastow: By reducing the CO2 we will be reducing all our costs.

SCA guides trade to change

Published:  23 June, 2009

STRATFORD: Timber companies have largely been resting on their laurels when it comes to 'green-ness' because 'everyone knows that timber is green'. With steel and concrete offering products that are making headway in the competition for sales based on environmentally friendly products, ...

the link between cutting CO2 emissions and cutting business costs was the focus of SCA Timber’s 10th June conference on ‘Forests, Wood Supply and the Low Carbon Economy’.

Held in the Midlands, SCA’s special conference marked 10 years of its FSC forest management certification. The carbon footprint of one cubic metre of SCA’s timber, from tree nursery to despatch quayside in Sweden is no more than the footprint of one family-sized roast beef joint for Sunday lunch, delegates were told. This compares to the 250kg of CO2/m3 taken out of the equation through sequestration in SCA’s forests, which are the size of Wales.

The conference brought together the total supply chain, from procurement and sustainability managers across construction to their suppliers - builders and timber merchants and wood product manufacturers. SCA guided delegates towards maximising wood use, and towards minimisation of packaging and transport, all of which bring business benefits in addition to reducing CO2 emissions.

The carbon value of the annual net growth in SCA’s forests was presented separately to the carbon impacts of producing timber and wood products to enable practical comparison with other building materials, said SCA Forest Products communications vice-president, Björn Lyngfelt. The 33kg of CO2 per m3 of solid wood products from tree nursery to despatch quayside in Sweden was compared by SCA Timber’s Per Fohlin to 0.07 of a single passenger flying from Heathrow to Las Palmas, or to the use of just 14-litres of diesel.

The effects of packaging and UK road transport in increasing carbon footprint were examined in detail, particularly in view of the likely inclusion of road transport in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme in 2013. Bob Bastow, SCA Timber Supply’s environment and quality assurance manager, who will now be working with SCA’s customers using its carbon calculator model, said the trade had to prove timber was truly sustainable right through to end users.

Mr Bastow commented: “Delivering ‘small’ orders increases the distribution element of a product’s carbon footprint by 50%. The smaller the order the greater the carbon footprint of that particular product. By establishing an accurate figure for the amount of CO2 generated for each cubic metre of timber after it has arrived in the UK we can work with customers to reduce it. And by reducing the CO2 we will be reducing all our costs.”

SCA sales director Stephen King took up the challenge of wood waste, asking why timber and wood products make up a quarter of all building site waste: “In reality, timber waste means higher energy costs in processing, wasted transport costs, and associated environmental and fuel costs. Additionally it means a landfill cost at the end of the supply chain. That’s a lot of money we could all be saving,” he challenged. “And what about the products themselves? Can we work together to design out waste, right from the very beginning of the product’s life cycle at the sawmill to the chippie’s use of the product on site?” SCA is about to start a tri-partite project with a national customers and a major constructor to map the causes of joinery wood waste throughout the supply chain.

Managing director of SCA Timber Supply, Rob Simpson, took up the resource efficiency and cost-saving baton: “Now that we accept we’re all going to have to map our carbon footprints, then why not use the opportunity to map out supply chain costs savings at the same time? Our research has found that of the 350-400 machined profiles on offer in the UK, only 250 items form the core of most builders’ merchant and DIY ranges. Greater standardisation would save costs throughout the chain. The consequent reductions in transport and packaging would also cut CO2 - a benefit to all our businesses, as the possibility of green taxes comes into view.”

SCA Forest Products president Ulf Larsson talked of SCA Timber AB’s strategic development, including the cost and material efficiency benefits of integrated production flows in manufacturing added-value timber products.

Anders Ek, SCA Timber’s international marketing director, closed the proceedings with a global softwood market update. Finland and Sweden’s housing start reductions from January-March 2009 had been even more swinging than those in the UK, he told the audience. Massive cut-backs in timber production have now taken place across Western Europe and prices for Nordic pine and spruce were already rising, reflecting a rapidly-developing shortage of supply.

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