Honest branding, compliance essential for engineered wood
Recent serious allegations and resulting actions over the use of imported plywood allegedly produced from illegally-harvested forests in Asia has again highlighted the importance of using material that complies with Australian standards and chain of custody certification systems.
“Another concern is the evidence that some Asian traders are under scrutiny for their pricing polices on the Australian market which target Australian jobs through product dumping at prices below the cost of production for local producers,” the general manger of the Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia Simon Dorries said.
He referred to a recent test of LVL scaffold planks imported from Asia where 10 samples failed standards for bonding strength.
Mr Dorries said product misrepresentation was taking place on a massive scale and product failure reports in both New Zealand and Australia were cause for serious concern. “I believe it is the responsibility of governments to have effective regulations which prohibit the use of dangerous or illegal materials,” he said.
Mr Dorries said ‘non-effective policing’ was one of the biggest problems for the engineered wood products industry.
“There is nothing proactive about the system,” he said. “The Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Australian Building Code require the use of specific plywood for specific applications, but there is no policing of the Australian Standard.
“Essentially, you need to wait for something to fall apart or someone to be injured before you can issue proceedings against anyone. The only real course for action is to go through the Trade Practices Act, after the event.”
Mr Dorries said engineered wood was facing a number of exciting challenges and the EWPAA was positioned to expand its boundaries as a high profile and respected industry organisation and product-testing facility. "Our priorities in developing and strengthening markets include on-going measures to ensure all products comply with standards," he said.
"We accept that imports are a reality, but we must have a level playing field and they must comply with Australasian Standards. Effectual branding and structural safety are essential.”
The EWPAA and its members have been long-time advocates of honest branding of products.
"As a watchdog on building materials entering the market, the EWPAA will come down very hard on those who try to cheat the system and bring in non-compliant and unsafe products through the back door,” Mr Dorries said.
EWPAA is taking a more powerful role as a lead industry organisation for certification and product analysis following a start-up of new timber testing and laboratory facilities in Queensland. The association has commissioned a Japanese Shimadzu 100 kN testing instrument in Brisbane which will used primarily to assemble ‘fitness for use’ criteria, including modulus of elasticity (MoE) and bending, compression and bearing strengths of timber.
EWPAA’s laboratories in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast are accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) and test for a full range of structural and physical properties and for formaldehyde emissions and bond quality.
Samples from member Plywood and LVL mills are tested daily with other properties tested on a monthly basis. The schemes are accredited by the Joint Accreditation System of Australian and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ)
"Through product innovation, consistent quality and the strictest adherence to Australasian building codes and compliance, the engineered wood products industry is committed to a 'buy home-grown' business belief that supports job protection and creation – vital in these times of economic uncertainty."
Plywood, LVL and wood panels form a $500 million industry and support more than 5,000 jobs on both sides of the Tasman.
Engineered wood producers are continuing to invest in the future. Carter Holt Harvey Woodproducts Australia's plywood mill at Myrtleford, Victoria, is an example where the company has transformed the existing 25-year-old sawmill into a world-class plywood facility.
EWPAA has a strong membership base in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. Valued at well over $1 billion, the industry in Australia and New Zealand supports more than 5,000 jobs.
Carter Holt Harvey Woodproducts supplies particleboard, structural and decorative wood products, engineered wood products, plywood and landscaping products.Learn more