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Buyer beware of non-FSC pipe boxing and compliance.

Encasement FSC

Buyer beware of non-FSC pipe boxing and compliance.

Housebuilders and contractors involved in concealing pipework on a new build or housing refurbishment projects could be inadvertently contravening their own sustainability policies, as non-FSC® certified plywood boxing is still available in the UK.

Even the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has stated, ‘if you don’t know where your timber and paper come from, you could be part of the problem’ and in its procurement factsheet, there are clear recommendations on the procedures and checks that should be made when purchasing:

  • Source from an FSC certified supplier. All FSC certified organisations are included within the FSC certificate database at info.fsc.org
  • Check that the certificate is valid and that it covers the appropriate product categories using the database at info.fsc.org
  • Specify FSC certified materials when placing your order and let your supplier know that you need them to make an FSC claim on their sale documents.
  • Check that delivery notes and/or invoices clearly identify the FSC certified products and includes the supplier’s FSC certificate code.

Where plywood boxing and casings are being used on housing construction and refurbishment projects for housing associations and local authorities, there is also a risk that using non-FSC products will contravene the UK government’s ‘Timber Procurement Policy’ (TPP) guidelines.

As these products are manufactured from wood, specifiers and contractors should be stipulating that they are FSC® or PEFC certified, required by the government’s TPP as well as the latest edition of the Timber Procurement Advisory Note (TPAN) from Defra.

Defra’s guidance on compliance with the TPP states:

Government procurers and their suppliers should have documentary evidence to show the timber supplied is at a minimum from legal and sustainable sources. This evidence should include a full chain of custody from the forest source(s) to the end-user.

Acceptable forest certification schemes provide this evidence of legal and/or sustainable timber. Suppliers and buyers must check evidence to verify its validity. Approved schemes include the 2 international certification schemes: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

Encasement’s Managing Director, Martin Taylor, explained: “The TPP and TPAN guidance exists to encourage and enforce a responsible approach to global environmental issues, such as climate change, illegal deforestation and the use of sustainably sourced timber, so it’s vital that companies are diligent about their procurement policies. As there is a risk of non-compliance, the best way of address this is to tighten the specification clauses and clearly specify only FSC Chain of Custody certified products.”

He added: “In our view, FSC is the default choice and not an option,” he continued. “Today, it’s impossible to purchase non-FSC toilet paper, so why should companies still be able to supply plywood pipe boxing and casings that aren’t manufactured from FSC certified materials. We always advise specifiers to avoid the risk of non-compliance and look for the FSC Chain of Custody (COC) certificate number against each product line that is ordered and supplied. If it’s not present on the invoice and delivery note, then it’s probably not FSC.”