Travis Perkins finds way out of woods on timber certification

Builders' merchant Travis Perkins, recently shamed by Greenpeace for importing Indonesian timber, has had its supply chain certified under both the Forest Stewardship Council and Pan-European Forest Certification schemes.

Travis Perkins was lambasted by Greenpeace last summer for supplying timber products from Indonesia (ENDS Report 341, p 35 ). Almost 90% of timber from the country is logged illegally. Soon afterwards the company stopped obtaining timber from the country.

Travis Perkins is the UK's largest builders' merchant. In October, it announced that it had been awarded chain of custody certification at 40 of its 600 branches. The certification covers a range of products including plywood, MDF, chipboard and some doors.

The certificate means that Travis Perkins can trace supplies back through the chain to the forest where it was produced. The forests themselves are certified by the FSC or PEFC as sustainably managed.

The company's planning director, Ian Goldsmith, said that it had taken the step in response to the pressure on the industry, especially from Government procurement policy which seemed to be heading towards demanding certified products.

The company is "demonstrably committed to increasing the amount of certified timber" in its stores, he added. Its 2002 environment report includes a target to ensure that 66% of the raw material content of its timber and wood products come from certified sources by 2006 - up from 50% at present. Certification of the timber source is split roughly in half between FSC and PEFC.

Timbmet, another major timber supplier, was awarded PEFC certification for its chain of custody in April. The company also sells FSC-certified products (ENDS Report 339, p 31 ). Last year, it set a target to increase the amount of FSC-certified timber to 50% by 2007 but has achieved only 5% so far.

Greenpeace said it was encouraged by both companies' action. "This is the beginning of a dramatic change in the industry," said campaign director John Sauven.

The group has launched a joint initiative with the UCATT, the UK construction workers' union, to stop construction companies fuelling illegal logging. A new UCATT report recommends that construction firms should only purchase timber certified by the FSC.1 The report will be sent to all its members and contractors, developers and local authorities.

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