The European Federation of Wooden Pallet and Packaging Manufacturers (FEFPEB) has welcomed changes to the European Union’s Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive that affect how recycling targets for wooden packaging are calculated, following work by the industry.
The organisation said the European Union has accepted that wood used in both the reuse and repair of pallets and packaging should be included in the calculation of recycling rates. It informed members about the changes – which have been incorporated into the Packaging & Packaging Waste Directive – at its two-day spring meeting, held in Edinburgh at the beginning of May.
Speaking at the meeting, secretary general Fons Ceelaert, said FEFPEB had advocated the change and was pleased with the outcome. “Wood used in both reuse and repair of pallets and packaging has been accepted, which is a real success,” he said. “Not reaching recycling targets could cause great problems in terms of penalties, so we are happy with this helpful new regulation, which removes a lot of concern for our industry.” He added that under the amended directive, replacing one component in a pallet also now allows the full weight of the pallet to be accounted for as recycled.
Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Rural Economy Secretary gave the keynote speech at the meeting, stressing that, with 42 million new pallets manufactured every year and 250 million in circulation in the UK alone, wooden pallets and packaging are essential to the economy. “
“Scotland is home to some world class timber processors and leading pallet manufacturers. Over 1 million cubic metres of UK timber is used to make and repair pallets every year, the bulk of which is grown in Scotland.
“Without wood packaging and pallets, national and international trade would not be able to function. I am very supportive of this important sector, not only for the products it generates but also its contribution to the wider economy and the use of domestic timber.
“Although there are risks of trade being disrupted through Brexit, the longer-term prospects for the forest industry in Scotland are very positive. Investors are putting their money into Scotland and last year we saw the largest area of productive planting since 2000, and next year is looking even better.”
He added that he expects wooden products to become increasingly important as part of a package of renewables that are essential to helping meet climate change targets into the future.
For this reason, he said, the government was working to ensure that there will be enough trees planted to ensure a regular, continuous stream of timber. The Scottish government has set a target of 10,000 hectares planted annually, rising to 15,000ha by 2024/25. It is working closely with the UK’s Confederation of Forest Industries (CONFOR) to meet these targets, he said.
Chief Executive of CONFOR, Stuart Goodall, spoke further at the meeting about the Edinburgh-based organisation’s work with government to increase stocks of timber as demand rises into the future.
Guy Watt of John Clegg Consulting gave members an update on the latest report on the UK industry, which he carried out on behalf of the Timber Packaging & Pallet Confederation (TIMCON) and which demonstrated a clear rise in the quantity of recycling of wooden packaging. Patrice Chanrion of FNB/SYPAL and Fons Ceelaert also gave presentations on similar market research that has been carried out on France and The Netherlands.
FEFPEB updated members at the meeting on the potential implications on the industry of Brexit and stressed that its members in the UK and Europe are working together to ensure that trade will remain smooth whatever final deal occurs; as well as the work of the European Confederation of Forest Industries (CEI-Bois) in areas including wood availability and sustainability, free trade policies and wood dust.
FEFPEB’s spring meeting was organised with the help of TIMCON, which represents the sector in the UK and Ireland. John Dye, TIMCON president, said: “We are very proud to welcome the European pallet and packaging industry to Edinburgh, which as well as being one of the most beautiful cities in the UK, is also a major hub for forest-based industries such as pallets and packaging.”
FEFPEB’s spring gathering included a general meeting for members, and of its industrial packaging, ISPM15, pallet pools and PR committees. Representatives of 15 countries attended.
“The spring meeting saw an important exchange of information between members and discussion on subjects including European legislation, recycling and ISPM15,” said Ceelaert. “International logistics is connected by its very nature, so collaboration between the UK and our colleagues in Europe and beyond is essential, both now and after Brexit, to ensure that business remains smooth and wooden pallets and packaging continue to play their central role, both as a facilitator of trade and a part of the increasingly prominent circular economy.”
FEFPEB will hold its 69th congress in Hamburg, Germany, on October 9-11, 2019.