UK consumers ‘in the dark’ over timber provenance
British consumers are being 'kept in the dark' about the sourcing practices of some of the UK's largest timber users, according to a new report from WWF.
The research – Do timber products in the UK stack up? – analysed 26 products from 17 different companies and found that none could provide evidence that they had carried out ‘sufficient due diligence’ in ensuring a sustainable timber supply.
Only one company (Cargo) was able to provide any documentation about its product, although the information was in Chinese.
Seven of the inspected companies were selling products made from what WWF considers ‘high-risk species’ of wood, while eight of the products tested were not actually made from the wood type or species claimed by the company.
Julia Young, manager of WWF’s global forest and trade network at WWF-UK said: “We cannot continue to have a market where customers cannot be sure the product they buy is made from the wood declared.
“In the absence of better information from companies that their wood has come from a legally or sustainably logged forest, customers are in the dark.”
WWF singled out two companies – guitar-maker Fender and retailer Oak Furniture Land – as manufacturers who responded to a request for more information, but only to “confirm that they would not give us the information we asked for.”
When contacted by edie, both companies insisted their timber sourcing policies were legally compliant.
Fender’s chief legal officer Mark van Vleet said that all wood sourced and manufactured directly by Fender was certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or an equivalent body. He said: “Fender takes its regulatory responsibilities very seriously and takes exhaustive measures to ensure such compliance. Any statement to the contrary is unfounded.”
Meanwhile, a legal representative for Oak Furniture Land refused to comment on the WWF test that claimed the company uses high risk wood. When asked if Oak Furniture Land had plans to go beyond legal timber and start sourcing sustainable timber, the spokesperson said: “We are constantly reviewing our product portfolio and believe we offer the consumer a fantastic product at very affordable prices.”
The WWF report calls for reforms to the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), which requires companies to make sure that the wood their products are made from comes from a legal source. WWF estimates that 59% of the wood products coming into Europe are not covered by the EUTR.
Young added: “We’re calling for improvements to the EUTR, as currently companies can still legally sell certain products that have been made of illegally logged wood. We also want far more transparency on sourcing practices and performance.
“We are heartened that as a result of this work, new businesses are now engaging with us to find out how to improve their due diligence, and 40 others have already signed up to our campaign.
“The forest campaign involves a pledge to buy from legal and sustainable sources. This is the right way to go and we want more companies to take this challenge and their responsibility seriously.”