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Cornwall council gets silver for sustainable timber

 

Cornwall council recently earned their WWF silver pledge by monitoring three of their key sustainable timber projects. David Morgan from Cornwall council outlines the process they went through…

An FSC sawmill© WWF-Switzerland/ A. della Bella / WWF-Canon

“We’ve purchased sustainable timber for most, if not all, of our projects for the last four years, since we became a unitary authority. For our silver pledge, we decided to improve the monitoring of three key projects:

  • A sustainable bus shelter design and prototype
  • Wood pellets for biomass boilers
  • A sustainable timber pedestrian footbridge

The structure of our sustainable bus shelter prototype is built from Accoya modified wood. It was easy to track down the sustainability credentials of the wood as the information from the supply chain was so comprehensive. This shows how tracking the chain of custody is straightforward when all the partners work together.

Our framework for sourcing wood pellets for biomass boilers already includes extensive sustainability criteria. It took a while to establish a programme of monitoring during the pledge process, as there was some confusion around the trading names of the supplier. After a little digging, we managed to establish a chain of custody and the product we received was FSC-certified, as required.

The pledge process has shown us how challenging it can be to prove full chain of custody for the timber we purchase, especially when it comes from a third party supplier/provider.

We’re not yet in a position to monitor all our timber purchases, but the pledge process has given us the skills to carry out spot checks on future invoices. This will let us confirm chain of custody when concerns are raised.”

The main things we’ve learned are:

  • Keep in close contact with your suppliers – they hold the information you need
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for more information
  • Always question data that looks inconsistent (to fulfil the terms of your contract)
  • Quality control is key – you need to make sure the final product meets all the requirements specified in the contract

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