A key takeaway from the TIMCON general meeting: collaboration between different sector organizations is increasingly important to achieving shared targets for the timber industry.
At the TIMCON general meeting held in Manchester in January, John Dye, President of the Timber Packaging & Pallet Confederation (TIMCON), said strong relationships with international and domestic associations including European Federation of Pallet & Packaging Manufacturers (FEFPEB), National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA), National Association of Pallet Distributors (NAPD), Timber Development UK (TDUK), Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF), and the Wood Recyclers Association (WRA) – which were all represented at the event – are vital to progressing the interests of timber-based businesses. This included cooperating on policy matters affecting the industry, such as the PPWR, and working together to source high-quality data to inform better decision-making for the industry.
TIMCON is the acknowledged representative body of the UK and Republic of Ireland wooden pallet and packaging industry, encompassing manufacturers, the four major pallet pooling companies and most sawmills who supply the industry from UK and Ireland and suppliers to the industry such as kiln and composite block manufacturers. TIMCON members manufacture 70 percent of the UK’s 43 million new pallets yearly; they use around one million cubic meters of wood, representing between 25 and 30% of the UK’s sawmilling production.
At the general meeting, Jason Ortega, NWPCA Vice President of Public Affairs, echoed the theme of international partnerships as he presented an update on his organization’s activities. This includes a new carbon calculator it has developed, from which it will share learnings as TIMCON embarks on a similar initiative to help its membership meet increasing sustainability obligations.
Marcus Kirschner of the German Wood Packaging Federation (HPE) and FEFPEB’s PPWR Committee said working with national organizations across Europe is a central part of lobbying EU policymakers. This includes ensuring they understand that the wooden packaging and pallet industry is naturally sustainable and should be at the heart of its circular economy principles and helping achieve acceptable results on PPWR.
“Over the past decade, TIMCON has fostered close productive partnerships with our pallet and packaging industry counterparts across the world and related wood-based sectors,” Dye said. “These relationships help us establish and communicate shared positions and achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. At a time of significant international tensions, this spirit of solidarity, cooperation, and friendship helps strengthen us all as individual businesses, associations, and the timber industry overall.” He added that with TIMCON representing the UK and Ireland, its remit included members inside and outside the EU, again highlighting the significance of working towards international solutions that benefitted all.
7% Drop in New Pallet Production, 1.7% Increase in Repairs
The need for quality data on the business from within the industry was also highlighted by Guy Watt of John Clegg Consulting, who presented the findings of the UK Wood Pallets & Packaging Market in 2022. The latest edition of this annual report, which is jointly commissioned by TIMCON and Forest Research (the research arm of the Forestry Commission), showed a 7 percent drop in production of new pallets, to 45.3million, representing a fall of approximately 3.4m pallets. This follows the 8.3 percent increase in pallet manufacture shown in last year’s report – and may be followed by a larger decrease for 2023. Meanwhile, pallet repairs have risen to 48.9m, an increase of 1.7 percent versus 2021.
Watt said surveys for the market report’s next edition would be issued to the membership in February this year – earlier than in the past. This, said Dye, will allow it to be published earlier, reducing uncertainty around volumes and helping inform discussions with Defra and other government departments.
The TIMCON meeting also featured presentations by Charlie Law, Sustainability Director for TDUK, and Nick Boulton, TDUK Head of Technical and Trade Policy. Law gave an update on the UK timber industry’s net zero action plan and the specific ways in which the pallet and packaging sector can support it. Boulton presented the latest UK market industry trends, including timber imports, demand, and forecasts.