Since the Forest Stewardship Council was founded in the early 1990s, its ‘Chain of Custody’ certification process has become recognised globally as the primary standard for sourcing sustainable timber.
Yet in spite of the UK government’s ‘Timber Procurement Policy’ guidance, which in essence, requires only independently verifiable legal and sustainable timber should be used on housing stock, there is evidence of inconsistency and a lack of awareness of this, particularly in local authority and housing association property refurbishment projects.
Where’s the issue?
Tens of thousands of local authority properties are maintained and refurbished every year, often requiring boilers and heating system pipework to be concealed. For more than 25 years, pre-formed and pre-finished plywood boxing has gradually been adopted as the preferred solution for many LAs and HAs, together with contractors, as it saves time and money compared to site made alternatives.
However, even with the move to sustainable timber, government procurement guidance and FSC certification, most if not all, LA pipe boxing specifications still do not specify the use of products manufactured from FSC certified legal and sustainable timber.
As FSC pipe boxing costs no more than the non-FSC equivalent, price is not an obstacle to specification or supply. Also, under the scope of their own sustainability policies, contractors and merchants should be purchasing and supplying FSC products in preference to non-FSC equivalents. Some would even argue that they should go further and take the responsibility of advising specifiers that legal and sustainable products are available.
Time for change
Price is clearly not a barrier to change, which should help stimulate interest from specifiers and contractors alike to adopt pipe boxing manufactured from independently verified legal and sustainable timber.
It’s likely that LAs, HAs, contractors and merchants are as focused on sustainability and sustainably sourced products, as we are at Encasement. But, for some reason it’s not being applied to the use of pre-formed pipe boxing, which is worth millions of pounds to maintenance contractors, heating engineers and merchants nationally.
Throughout the supply chain everyone has a responsibility for sustainable procurement, so in our view a lack of awareness or understanding about obligations is no defence, especially as existing government guidance has set out the policy that should be adopted.
So, what is the answer to the question of FSC, who cares? "We all should.”