As the 4th largest timber importing country in the world, the UK has a responsibility to ensure that the timber it buys comes from legal and sustainable sources. Estimates suggest that public sector accounts for up to 30% of all timber imports. Public sector procurement therefore has a highly influential role to play in incentivising changes in forest management around the globe.
Examples of public sector procurement policies and voluntary guidelines include:
UK Government Timber Procurement Policy
The UK government timber procurement policy requires central government departments, their executive agencies (EAs) and non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) to procure timber and wood-derived products originating from:
• Legal and sustainable sources, or
• FLEGT licensed or equivalent sources
The policy applies to all timber products including paper, furniture and timber used in construction. Recycled products are also accepted under the policy. Local authorities and other autonomous publicly funded bodies are strongly encouraged to adopt sustainable timber procurement policies in line with government policy.
UK Government Paper Procurement Policy
Central government departments are mandated to procure 100% recycled fibre for copier paper and 75% recycled fibre for printing papers.
The virgin fibre element in printing papers must comply with CPET requirements (see below). This is also recommended as best practice for the wider public sector.
Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET)
The Central Point of Expertise on Timber is a technical advisory body established by Defra (Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs) to aid implementation and delivery of the policy by providing guidance and assistance to public buyers and their suppliers. CPET offers a variety of services which are available to public sector organisations, their suppliers and contractors free of charge including training, and a helpline.
Certification schemes play an important role in the implementation of government timber procurement policy as they provide evidence of compliance. CPET has assessed relevant schemes against the UK Government’s legality and sustainability criteria and both PEFC and FSC are deemed to provide evidence of compliance with the policy.
2012 London Olympics
The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) bases its procurement policy for the 2012 London Olympics on the CPET requirements for compliance with the UK government timber procurement policy, requiring that all timber used of the Olympic and Paralympic Games comes from legal and sustainable sources.
The use of sustainable timber is considered to play an important role in helping to ensure that London 2012 is a truly "Green Games". The ODA has established a timber suppliers’ panel to supply timber products to the Olympic site. Panel members are expected to comply with CPET-approved certification schemes such as PEFC and FSC. For further information see London 2012 - Innovation in Certified Timber Supply.
Code for Sustainable Homes
The Code for Sustainable Homes, introduced in 2006, is designed to drive a step-change in sustainable house building practice in the UK.
The Code is a standard for key elements of design and construction which affect the sustainability of a new home and forms the basis for future developments of the Building Regulations in relation to carbon emissions from, and energy use in homes.
Building to this Code enables developers to differentiate themselves in a market where consumers are becoming increasingly environmentally aware.
The Code awards ratings to houses based on their performance in nine different categories. Additional points can be awarded towards your rating based on the percentage of certified timber and timber products used in both building and finishing elements.
BREEAM and the UK Government Timber Procurement Policy
The Building Research Establishments Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) assesses the environmental performance of buildings across their entire lifecycle and can be applied to either construction or refurbishment projects. All government departments are required to conduct a BREEAM assessment or equivalent on projects above a certain value.
The BREEAM standard, awards additional credits for responsibly sourced timber e.g. timber from legal and sustainable sources. Evidence of meeting these requirements can be demonstrated though the provision of chain of custody certificates from sustainable forest management certification schemes such as PEFC and FSC.
Ska Rating is designed to encourage good practice in "fit out" work and has been developed collaboratively by consultants, contractors and occupiers. In its Good Practice Guidance document, SKA Rating highlights PEFC as one of the forest certification schemes that provide evidence of good-practice.