Industry body launched to support timber supply chain

The ethical, social and environmental risks in the timber supply chain are to be addressed by a newly-formed umbrella organisation which aims to provide a unified voice for the timber industry and ultimately grow the UK's low-carbon economy.

The Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) will represent the timber supply chain from forest to end-of-life recycling and energy recovery; consolidating and enhancing the various links in the timber supply chain and building more relationships with new industry partners.

Dr Peter Bonfield, chief executive of BRE, launched the CTI. He said: “This Industry has needed a stronger joined up voice for a very long time. This is a great moment for the Timber Industries to demonstrate their combined strength and showcase the Industry.

“The Industry needs to move to the top of the agenda with specifiers, designers and constructors and becomes a first choice construction product. This is an historic day, which we should all embrace to make CTI the success we all need it to be.”

‘Long journey’

The CTI will be headed up by chief executive Dirk Vennix, who has substantial experience in communications and stakeholder engagement. Speaking of his appointment, Vennix said “it will be a long journey but I am ready for this challenge”.

“CTI vision is all about growing the supply chain and the market, nurturing the skills in education and the sustainability agenda,” he added. “Wood needs to become the product of first choice. I am looking forward to talking to all stakeholders in the timber supply chain and building more relationships with a wide range of important partners.

“The CTI is committed to providing key deliverables in the areas of growth, skills and sustainability by 2016. We can achieve this target together.”

The timber supply chain contributes substantially to the UK’s construction and manufacturing industries; providing jobs across the skills spectrum and adding value of around £20bn to the UK economy. As such, the CTI wants to “ensure that timber leads the way in 21st century construction and related industries”.

The organisation will focus on a number of key projects to influence the development and growth of construction, housing and interiors using wood-based products and growing the UK’s low-carbon economy. It will create a growth agenda that also incorporates the paper industries and furniture manufacturing – not just timber in construction, but as part of a joined up approach.

Business risk

The timber supply chain is among of the most complex in the world with a huge diversity of operations worldwide and a downstream process that involves many steps from harvesting through to sawmill, wood processing and distribution.  

As an indication of this complexity, a recent report from the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) found that almost two thirds of reporting companies are currently unable to trace the origin of timber. Aida Greenbury, managing director of sustainability at Asia Pulp & Paper, says this lack of supply chain traceability represents an “unacceptable business risk” and should serve as a wakeup call to businesses everywhere. 

Writing exclusively for edie at the end of 2014, Greenbury said: “The good news is that commitments on ending deforestation recognise the scale of the issue, the challenge is that supply chains are not moving fast enough. Businesses need to act now, not in 2020 or 2030, to ensure that their supply chain is engaged and moving in the right direction.”

Luke Nicholls

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie