John Dye, President of the Timber Packaging & Pallet Association (TIMCON), has commended the increasing trend for wood-based organisations representing different parts of the industry to work closer together, with the shared goals of tackling challenges and improving the position of the sector overall.
TIMCON has developed increasingly close relationships with wood sector associations in the UK and Ireland, as well as government bodies including DEFRA, DAERA and Coillte, during the past decade.
“For several years, TIMCON has sought to work in partnership with a cross-section of the wood industry’s leading associations and spokespeople,” said Dye. “This has formed an extremely strong foundation for progressing our work during the pandemic. It can also now play a central role in tackling the wood industry’s latest challenges, with joined-up, collaborative solutions.
“With crises affecting availability and price of raw materials, severe delays and price hikes impacting on international shipping, and staff shortages threatening the viability of many industries, it is more important than ever that we put our heads together across the wood-based sector to find mutually beneficial solutions to these and other issues.”
At its latest general meeting, held in Manchester in March, the organisation welcomed speakers from Coillte; Wood Recyclers Association (WRA); Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF); and Timber Development UK (TDUK) – the organisation formed by the recent merger of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) and Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA).
At the meeting, Clodagh O’Reilly, Sales and Supply Director of Irish state-owned forestry business Coillte spoke about the organisation’s consultation to achieve goals including encouraging the development of Ireland’s forest estate and supplies of sustainable timber and supporting the promotion of timber and forest-based businesses. This, she said, is against the current industry challenges including regulation, price inflation, labour shortages, and political and economic uncertainty.
Charlie Law, Sustainability Director at TDUK gave a presentation on the importance of reuse in the circular economy for wood-based industries. Driven by the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations (2024), the UK 2050 net-zero target and an interim target of a 78 per cent reduction (on 1990 levels) by 2035, pressure on sustainable sources of timber is increasing, compounded by the fact that significant sources in Russia and Belarus are currently not viable, he said.
Reuse is an integral part of mitigating this challenge, said Law. “If we could get to a point where all pallets are part of a reusable system, this could save more than 1.1 million m3 of timber a year,” he said. “This is enough timber to build around 60,000 timber-framed houses, which will store 780,000 tonnes of CO2.”
More than 50 delegates attended the general meeting.
“It was great to see so many TIMCON members and colleagues from other wood-based organisations at our first face-to-face meeting this year,” said Dye. “It has always been useful to come together and share information and ideas and it’s now essential that we put our heads together to work on the unprecedented challenges and great opportunities our industry faces in the months ahead.”
TIMCON retained close to 100 per cent of its membership during the past year and it expects further members to join, particularly from the packaging segment of the industry.