Timber Procurement Policy (TPP): prove legality and sustainability

Comply with the TPP and check documentary evidence to show that timber is legal and sustainable: for government procurers and suppliers.

Evidence of legality and sustainability can come in 2 forms:

Category A

Third party, independent forest certification schemes, referred to as ‘Category A’ evidence under the timber procurement policy, provide a way of defining sustainable forest management as well as verifying that a timber source meets the definition of sustainability.

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 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.

Checklist to show how to check certificates from forest certification scheme (Category A)

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Approved schemes include the 2 international certification schemes: Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC).

The Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET) has a helpdesk for all UK government buyers and direct suppliers. You can also attend a free workshop on timber procurement.

Review of Category A certification schemes

The forest certification schemes approved as ‘Category A evidence’ are reviewed regularly to ensure that they continue to provide evidence of compliance. The next review is taking place late 2014.

CPET therefore invites all stakeholders to submit evidence of certification schemes compliance in preparation for the review of the schemes to monitor continued compliance with UK government TPP. Comments can be submitted using the online survey until the deadline of 19th November 2014. Email the CPET helpdesk for a link to the survey. Both the Criteria for Evaluating Forest Certification Schemes (Cat A evidence) and the Methodology for reviews of timber certification schemes (Cat A evidence) will be used by CPET to review the schemes.

You can also check the Forest certification scheme assessment review: 2010 report (PDF, 157KB, 8 pages) .

Category B

Category B is all forms of credible evidence other than certification schemes that indicate that the forest source meets the UK government’s criteria for sustainability and legality. This type of evidence can vary greatly and is judged on a case-by-case basis.

Government procurers and their suppliers: Use the Framework for evaluating category B evidence to help with the provision and assessment of Category B evidence.

‘Broken chain of custody’ is when you purchase timber and timber products from a supplier who is not directly certified but who claims their supply is. You may be able to show that it meets the requirements for legality and sustainability by following the steps outlined in the practical guides and framework document.

It is important to understand that if you do have a break in the chain, and use credible Category B evidence to make the link between the certificate holder, your supplier and you, you can’t claim that certified products have been purchased. Any such claim would be a trademark infringement. Contact the relevant certification scheme for more information.

The Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET) has a helpdesk for all UK government buyers and direct suppliers. You can also attend a free workshop on timber procurement.

Meeting TPP requirements: guidance for woodland owners in England

CPET recognises that timber traceable to a forest with a fully implemented forest management plan in line with the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS) requirements and guidelines meets the UK government’s Timber Procurement Policy. The Forestry Commission has guidance to woodland owners in England, and suppliers using wood from small English woodlands, to help them meet the requirements of government TPP.

If your woodland is not certified under the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS), ie, FSC / PEFC UK, you can meet Category B criteria through the English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS). The new WPG and associated monitoring process meets the legal and sustainable criteria for supply timber through Category B. It is open to owners with less than 100 hectares of woodland but more than 3 hectares, whose woodlands are not certified.

International timber regulations

EU Timber Regulation

The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) puts obligations on businesses who trade in timber and timber related products. The National Measurement Office is the UK’s Competent Authority.

Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT)

One of the aims of the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan is to reduce illegal logging. A Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and a timber-producing country outside the EU.

The purpose of a VPA is to:

  • en­sure that timber and timber products exported to the EU come from legal sources
  • help timber-exporting countries stop illegal logging by improving regulation and governance of the forest sector

FLEGT VPA licensed timber is accepted by the UK government as evidence of compliance with the TPP. Once a VPA partner country licensing scheme has been established, licensed timber and wood-derived products arriving in the EU from that country should be accompanied by the appropriate FLEGT-licence which will be checked at import. Adequate supply chain controls need to be in place from the point of import to the point of delivery to Contracting Authorities to demonstrate that the material being delivered was FLEGT-licensed.

Further information can be found on the official EC website and on the European Forest Institute (EFI) website.

Definitions of terms commonly used in the TPP

Timber and timber products

Includes any product that contains wood or wood fibre, such as floor joists, scaffolding, site hoardings, paper, presentation folders, notebooks, binders, file dividers, cardboard, office furniture, woody biomass, wood fuel and wood pellets. Does not include ‘recycled’ materials.

Legality and sustainability

See Definition of ‘legal and sustainable’, 5th edition document.

Chain of custody: from the forest to the final product

To confirm that a wood-based product originated in a legally and sustainably managed forest, you must know which forest or forests it was sourced from. In most cases there are several stages between the original forest and the final product.

For example, the wood in a piece of wooden furniture such as a stool starts out as a tree which is cut and sold to a sawmill. Here it is cut into planks and dried before being sold to a furniture factory. The stool is made in the factory and then sold to a furniture supplier who finally supplies the stool to the end user.

In reality, the supply chain is likely to be much more complex because there are often several suppliers at each stage in the chain: every sawmill buys logs from several forests, each furniture factory buys wood from several sawmills and the supplier buys furniture from several factories. Thus, the furniture supplied by a single furniture supplier might contain wood from tens or even hundreds of different forests.

Recycled products

Recovered wood that previously had an end use as a standalone object or as part of a structure. The term ‘recycled’ is used to cover the following categories:

  • pre-consumer recycled wood and wood fibre or industrial by products (from furniture production for example)
  • post-consumer recycled wood and wood fibre (recycled paper for example) and drift wood (contact CPET if you receive claims of drift wood)
  • reclaimed timber which was abandoned or confiscated at least 10 years previously (evidence of the timber being harvested more than 10 years ago is required; contact CPET)

Note that sawmill co-products fall within the category of virgin timber and not recycled.

This is in line with the government’s policy to reduce and manage waste and WRAP’s Reclaimed Building Products Guidance