The Timber Trade Federation (TTF) is making third-party quality certification mandatory for its members producing and selling treated wood products in the UK. This landmark decision, taken at the TTF’s annual general meeting in November, further reinforces the Federation’s campaign to grow demand for quality treated wood under its ‘Timber You Can Trust’ strategy.

The TTF is the industry voice for timber importers, distributors, and traders across the UK. Its members are some of the biggest suppliers of timber products and are often the first placers of goods on to the UK market. This is a responsible position. As such, the TTF requires its Members to abide by a Code of Conduct on how they operate their businesses. This Code requires them to have a duty of care towards the rest of the downstream supply chain. This includes the quality and fitness for purpose of the products they sell. Following the AGM vote, the requirement to provide third-party quality certification of preservative treated wood has been added to the TTF Code of Conduct. Members with an interest in treated wood have agreed a timetable that will see compliance achieved by July 2022.

“Our message to the buyers of treated wood in the UK is very simple” says TTF Chief Executive Dave Hopkins ‘ buying treated wood from a TTF member means buying timber you can trust.”

Third-party QA a gamechanger

‘Selling treated wood under a third-party quality scheme is a proven game changer.” says Wood Protection Association (WPA) Chief Executive Gordon Ewbank who points to the success of such schemes in growing and sustaining demand for treated wood products in other markets. “ You’d be hard pressed to buy a treated wood product in the USA, Canada or Scandinavia that wasn’t labelled with a third-party quality mark.” says Gordon who says that treated wood quality schemes have been operating successfully for decades in these markets and enjoy high consumer recognition and trust.

However, the treated wood supply chain in the UK has, until now, shown little appetite to adopt independent quality assurance (QA) schemes. The WPA pioneered the development of a scheme for UK treaters in 2011 with the launch of the WPA BenchmarkTM . This scheme initially aimed at building buyer confidence in treated wood for ground contact applications (British Standard BS8417 Use Class 4) has subsequently been expanded to treated wood destined for out of ground applications. The WPA members who operate the scheme confirm that it has raised customer satisfaction significantly. However, the share of the UK market for thirdparty quality accredited treated wood has remained modest. The WPA believes that in the next year or so this position could change significantly. Gordon Ewbank says: “With TTF members backing a move to third-party quality certification the future for treated wood looks good – TTF members account for over 80% of the £10 billion UK timber industry which means the impetus behind the move is strong.”

The decision by TTF members to adopt third-party certification has not come out of the blue. It had been widely anticipated following a joint market survey by TTF and WPA identified that three key priorities must be addressed in order to grow demand for treated wood in the UK.

These priorities are:

1. the common failure to specify/ describe treated wood correctly.

2. low awareness of how to install and use treated wood correctly.

3. independent verification of treatment quality.

A strategic partnership was formed with WPA to provide the technical leadership and communications materials to tackle the first two priorities and a campaign to raise awareness about how to specify treated wood correctly has just been launched. Both Confor and the Timber Decking & Cladding Association have now joined forces to back the TTF/WPA campaign which will enable the key specification messages to reach deep into the UK supply chain.

Buyers guides, a new specification code of practice, webinars, advertisements, point of sale posters and press relations are all part of what is the biggest generic communications and supply chain education programme staged to promote the benefits of quality treated wood.

A main aim of this campaign is to put an end to meaningless expressions such as ‘green treated’ by both buyers and sellers. British Standards categorise the applications for timber into broad categories known as Use Classes. It’s the ‘Use Class’ that determines how much preservative is required to protect the product against decay or insects throughout its service life. Why not try testing your knowledge of these end-use categories by taking the F&L News Use Class Quiz accompanying this article.

For more details about the campaign or the WPA BenchmarkTM third-party quality scheme check out the preservative treatment section of www.thewpa.org.uk

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