EUTR: A positive future

Published:  05 June, 2013

The introduction of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) and the impending move from the Construction Products Directive (CPD) to the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) from 1 July are both having an effect on the OSB market and, ultimately, the merchant, writes George Watson of SmartPly.

New regulations, understandably, can be a daunting prospect for both manufacturers and merchants alike. However, when it comes to the OSB market, legislative changes will also bring opportunity - particularly for the structural panels sector.

George WatsonMerchants should be aware that under the EUTR, it will be an offence to place illegally harvested timber and timber products onto the EU market and the soon-to-be CPR will additionally make CE marking a legal requirement. Any tropical plywood that doesn’t fulfil these new requirements will therefore no longer be an option, so merchants may be better-placed promoting alternatives such as structural OSB.

Products such as SmartPly fulfil both requirements, giving merchants and end-users confidence that they are fulfilling their requirements.

It is important to remember that legislative changes also have a positive effect on the OSB market in terms of encouraging manufacturers to continually innovate to meet the growing technical requirements of the construction industry.

SmartPly’s most recent development is ToughPly - a fully certified, legal and sustainable OSB3 alternative to tropical plywood. The general builder's board provides a solution for a variety of applications such as roofing, sheathing and boarding. The product can even be used where a structural solution is required by the building regulations.

Norbord asks: Are you ready for the EUTR?

The simple act of buying a timber-based product now carries the risk of prosecution if that product is found to contain illegally felled timber.

The new EUTR means it is now illegal to buy or sell wood or wood-based products made from illegally harvested timber. The timber industry will have had almost three years to ensure that supplies are from legal, sustainable sources.

Norbord says its UK-made products, including its Sterling OSB, Caberwood MDF and Caberboard particleboard products, contain only wood-fibre grown and sourced from within the UK. These are made from three primary raw materials: ‘virgin timber’ from sawmill co-products, coniferous roundwood from forest operations, and post-consumer wood waste from clean recycled timber. All of Norbord’s products are certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and all virgin timber also has “chain of custody” to provide an audit trail leading back to the original source of the wood used in a product.

Unfortunately, says Norbord, much of the UK’s imported wood product, particularly hardwood products such as imported plywood, is still being brought into the country from unmanaged forests where illegal logging takes place.

“We know for sure that all of our products will pass the EUTR criteria, but we are now working on a due diligence system to demonstrate that. We will meet the full requirement of the Regulation,” said George Webb, Norbord’s group purchasing manager. “We welcome the EUTR. Illegally sourced timber harms the environment and its import impacts the credibility of the whole timber industry - including wholly legitimate businesses such as Norbord and its customers. This new law has the company’s full backing.”

Canada Wood UK: Taking the hassle out of the EUTR

Canada Wood UK has developed a concise brief on the recent EUTR for all companies first-placing timber or wood products onto the EU market. Covering products as diverse as fuel wood, sawn wood, packing cases, pulp, paper and many more, the EUTR will impact on all wood-reliant sectors.

The basis of the Canada Wood brief is the fact that forests in all of Canada’s provinces are ‘legally harvested’. Canadian timber and those wood-based products comprised of only wood harvested in Canada constitute ‘negligible risk’ under the operator’s due diligence obligations. The brief effectively provides the majority of the information an operator needs in order to demonstrate due diligence. Guidance is also provided for ‘blended-source’ products where wood may have been obtained both from the USA and off-shore.

John Park, manager of Canada Wood UK, said: “We have encountered a great deal of confusion and concern among EU operators. Our guidance, for when they are importing timber and wood products from Canada, should alleviate their concerns and make their lives a whole lot simpler.”

The EUTR is system-based but not prescriptive. It is the operator, not the product, who will be EUTR-compliant – being responsible for both their due-diligence system and their compliance with it.

Enforcement of the EUTR will be undertaken by the ‘competent authority’ in each Member State – in the UK it is the National Measurement Office.

Theoretically, timber and wood products should not be identified as being ‘EUTR compliant’ but then there is nothing within the EUTR to say that it is not permitted to do so.

With Mr Park’s involvement with the development of the European Standard for plywood, he added: “The EUTR will be particularly helpful for plywood with the adoption on 1 July 2013 of the Construction Products Regulation.”

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This article first appeared in the March 2013 issue of Builders' Merchants News.

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