EPF Annual Report 2019-2020, Advocacy Activities and AGM 2021

In a meeting held today by videoconference with press contacts, associate members and collaborating institutes, EPF presented an economic review of the wood-based panels industry in 2019, drawn from the recently published EPF Annual Report 2019-2020. Advocacy activites were also discussed, and the dates and location for the AGM 2021 were announced.

Economic Review of the Wood-Based Panels industry in 2019

In 2019, the total production of European wood-based panels posted a dip of 1.8% after five consecutive years of growth, reaching a total of 59.2 million m³. Particleboard production increased by 0.5% to 32.1 million m³ thanks to capacity additions. MDF contracted by 3.7% to a total of 12.1 million m³ partly due to announced capacity closures. Oriented Strand Board (OSB), the third largest panel type by volume, declined by 0.8% to 6.8 million m³. Softboard is the next largest panel type. It decreased by 8.6% to reach 4.7 million m³ driven by announced capacity closures. Plywood production went down by 7.8% to 3 million m³. Hardboard is the smallest panel type with 491,000 m³ of production in 2019, which was down by 7.3% compared to 2018.

 

Production (million m³) Countries 2019 2018 2019 v 2018
Particleboard EU28 + EFTA 32.1 31.9 0.5%
MDF EU28 + EFTA 12.1 12.6 -3.7%
OSB EU28 + EFTA 6.8 6.8 -0.8%
Hardboard EU28 + EFTA 0.5 0.5 -7.3%
Softboard EU28 + EFTA 4.7 5.2 -8.6%
Plywood EU28 3.0 3.2 -7.8%
Total Wood-Based Panels 59.2 60.3 -1.8%

 

The special topics for the 2019-2020 issue of the Annual report are:

 Future Two Billion Homes and Horizon Net-Zero Carbon: A turning point for pan-global increase in timber construction by Professor Sean Smith, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Construction at Edinburgh Napier University

  • Wood Products and Wood-Based Panels (WBP) in Construction by Mr Frank Goecke, Director of AFRY Management Consulting
  • Russian end-use markets developments for wood-based panels
  • Plywood and Panel Industry in India – Current scenario by Dr. C.N. Pandey, Principal Technical Advisor of the Federation of Indian Plywood & Panel Industry
  • Thailand’s Wood-Based Panels Industry by Mr PingHsun Huang, Secretary General of the Thai Panel Product Industry Club
  • Malaysian Wood-Based Panels – A diversity of choice by Ms Agnes Seah, Regional Head of the Malaysian Timber Council Europe
  • The European Green deal – A once in a lifetime opportunity for wood-based panels?

Advocacy Update

EPF presented its key advocacy activies, highlighting its consistent messages towards legislators in technical advocacy to retain the integrity of the Single Market, to promote European harmonisation (and to resist Member State fragmentation), and to ensure a level playing field for the benefit of European citizens.

EPF drew attention to its European Green Deal Advocacy, and the recently published leaflet which highlights EPF’s four calls to the European Institutions to:

  • Secure the supply for wooden raw materials and guarantee a level playing field;
  • Increase use of sustainable bio-based products and systems to fight climate change;
  • Stimulate the cascading use of harvested wood products;
  • Enable users to choose climate friendly raw materials.

Comment was also made about the recently published substitution study which highlights that European forest-based industries ecosystem today makes a postive climate contribution that is the equivalent of 20% of all EU fossil emissions.

AGM 2021

In closing, EPF was delighted to announce that Berlin will be the location for the next EPF Annual General Meeting, from 9-11 June 2021. EPF will be hosted by German member organisation VHI, the German wood-based panels federation. The EPF AGM will be combined with VHI’s celebration of a century of existence. The combined event will emphasise the positive contribution that the industry makes today, and will emphasise the need for continued European harmonisation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

EPF Advocacy Leaflet including key data and Green Deal objectives for wood-based panels

EPF published its Advocacy Leaflet, prepared in the framework of our high-level advocacy strategy. We believe that this document, which is a folded and double-sided 4 pager (A5 size), will bring greater visibility for the wood-based panels industry towards key decision-makers and other stakeholders. We will use it in our Green Deal discussions in Brussels, and also welcome you to employ it in your national discussions.

The Leaflet presents our industry through some key factual data and visual supports while promoting some of our industry achievements. It also presents our concrete policy proposals as elaborated in our Position Paper on the European Green Deal, namely:

– Secure the supply for wooden raw materials and guarantee a level playing field;
– Increase the use of sustainable bio-based products and systems to fight climate change;
– Stimulate the cascading use of harvested wood products;
– Enable users to choose climate friendly materials.

 

 

COVID-19: To fight the Corona pandemic, the European Woodworking and Furniture Industries propose measures to protect workers’ health, support economic activity and the sector’s recovery.

EPF, joining forces with our trade union social partner (EFBWW) as well as EFIC, EOS, CEI-Bois and UEA, is delighted to share a call for measures to protect workers’ health, to support economic activity and to help the sector’s recovery in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. To read full document, click COVID-19 – joint recommendations for the Wood and Furniture

EPF, FEP and EOS join forces for a New Industrial Strategy for Europe

A New Industrial Strategy for Europe: call for including the Bioeconomy in the new European Industrial Strategy.

The European Panel Federation (EPF), the European Federation of the Parquet industry (FEP)
and EOS, the European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry (three sectors with a combined
yearly turnover of approximately 75 Billion EUR – representing 53% of the wood working value
chain), call the Council and the European Parliament for including the Bioeconomy in the
new European Industrial Strategy.

Please click here to read more.

EPF and ZWE proposal for a comprehensive EU strategy for wood under The New Circular Economy Action Plan

The European Panel Federation (EPF) and Zero Waste Europe warmly welcome the New
Circular Economy Action Plan to stimulate lead markets for climate neutral and circular
products. Material efficiency is of the utmost importance to help reduce greenhouse gas
emissions and, in this respect, sustainable product initiative will play a major role in reducing
products externalities.

Please click here to read more.

EPF launches its Position Paper on the European Green Deal

Following the European Parliament’s recent declaration of a climate emergency, European Commission President von der Leyen unveiled in December 2019 the European Commission’s plans to achieve climate neutrality in the EU by 2050: the European Green Deal. The Commission President committed herself to deliver the first detailed proposals within the first 100 days in office. In January 2020, the Parliament voted on its Resolution on the Green Deal with a large majority calling for the decarbonisation ambitions to be set to at least 55% reduction of greenhouse gases emissions for 2030. Ahead of the March Plenary session in Strasbourg where the first set of statements will be presented by the European Commission on the Climate Law, the New Circular Economy Action Plan and the EU Industrial Strategy, EPF publishes today its Position Paper on the European Green Deal.

The Position Paper presents the priorities and demands of the wood-based panels industry with concrete proposals to stimulate the sector in line with the objectives of a circular and innovative economy as set by the guidelines of the European Green Deal. More specifically, the Paper presents a set of four concrete proposals to help the wood-based panels industry to contribute to the goals of the Green Deal:

  • the guarantee of a level playing field and secure supply for wooden raw materials;
  • the use of sustainable bio-based products to fight climate change;
  • the cascade use of harvested wood products;
  • the promotion of climate-friendly products.

Wood-based panels are innovative circular products that store carbon throughout their whole life cycle. They are mainly used for furniture, construction, packaging and other everyday applications.  Panels can help substitute energy-intensive fossil-based materials in construction and renovation of the built environment. Wood-based panels are time, cost and energy efficient and offer enormous potential towards delivering the societal change targeted by the European Green Deal.

Click for the full EPF Position Paper on the European Green Deal

EPF and Industry4Europe offer European Institutions a vision of a strong and successful Europe, powered by a transformational industry

“A long-term strategy for Europe’s industrial future: from words to action” was presented on 21 January to high-level representatives of the EU institutions at an event hosted by the Croatian Presidency of the European Council and by Industry4Europe, a coalition of 153 industrial sectors.  EPF was a co-sponsor of the event and a co-signatory of the Joint Paper.  “From Words to Action” (https://www.industry4europe.eu/assets/Uploads/Publications/Industry4Europe_Joint-Paper_November-2019.pdf) makes the case for Industry in Europe on behalf of the 52 million citizens and their families, who benefit directly or indirectly from employment in the European industrial sector.

 

 

EPF welcomes the conclusions of the Joint Paper and the discussions held in Brussels, in particular:

Recognising the value of Circular Economy. Europe needs to adopt policies and regulatory frameworks that reduce barriers to reuse, repair and recycling, and which encourage circularity.

Sustainability is a global opportunity for Europe.  Industrial strategy on sustainability must translate science into business opportunities.  These must ensure sustainability for long time viability and decarbonisation to protect our climate.  Innovation in industry can deliver this.

Level playing field in the EU market and globally. The alignment of sustainability with a competitive industry must be enabled through a level playing field across diverse economies.  Harmonisation, not regionalism, should also be strongly encouraged allowing global champions to emerge.

  

EPF, an active participant in the Industry4Europe coalition, welcomes EU Commission President von der Leyen’s Green Deal growth strategy that recognises the need for a new European industrial policy based on the circular economy.  EPF acknowledges the recommendation of high-level panellists at the Brussels event to communicate “From Words to Action” and the possibilities that industry offers as broadly as possible in order to help drive this change.  With European wood-based panels being increasingly driven by innovation (already today ca. 50% of the wood resource comes from recovered wood or industrial by-products, effectively turning waste into product), EPF looks forward to playing a key role in the societal, environmental and economic transformation that is envisaged for Europe by the Green Deal.EPF, the European Panel Federation, has members in 25 EU countries and represents the manufacturers of particleboard, MDF, OSB, hardboard, softboard and plywood. The European wood-based panels industry has an annual turnover of about 22 billion euro, creates over 100,000 jobs directly and counts more than 5,000 enterprises in Europe.

 

EPF welcomes its new Climate and Environment Advisor

We are delighted to announce Mr Alexis Kuhl as EPF’s new Climate & Environment adviser.

Alexis, a Belgian, began his professional career as an EU Policy Officer helping members of the Hungarian parliament with their accession to the EU in 2004.  Since then he has worked as a Parliamentary Assistant for an MEP, as an Energy Performance Certifier for buildings, and has also run his own business for ten years.  Most recently he completed a Masters in Environmental Sciences and Management at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, specialised in environmental and energy policy, as well as environmental law, economy and management.  We believe that Alexis’ skill set, qualifications and personality make him ideally suited to helping EPF to put wood-based panels at the centre of the new European Green Deal.

 

 

EPF supports the Single Market and calls for a suspension of new VOC requirements for panels in Germany

The Single Market is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest achievements of the European Union. It unites 28 countries and 500 million citizens, allowing goods to flow seamlessly within the territory. Common rules have allowed consumers to benefit greatly from scale, especially in the field of construction products. It is therefore with great concern that the European Wood-based Panel Federation (EPF) raises the alarm against the current threat to European harmonisation and progress posed by countries seeking to add new national rules on top of existing European regulations.

In May 2019, EPF called on regulators to support common standards for wood-based panels. EPF retains this level playing field position as a core principle of its members. Today, it resubmits this view, specifically regarding new VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) requirements being introduced in Germany. These are about to be imposed by certain Federal States as of 1 October 2019, in conflict with the harmonised rules of the European Construction Products Regulation (CPR), of CE marking, and in spite of the fact that the European notification is still ongoing (standstill date 27 December 2019).

Germany’s proposed Model Administrative Rules on Technical Building Regulations (MVVTB) version 2019/1 seeks to require manufacturers and sellers of panels to meet new national requirements. A Member State adding new demands, on top of those currently allowed, infringes CPR. This argument was upheld by the European Court of Justice in April. In addition, multiple new court cases are now underway against MVVTB in Germany, and one Federal State, Baden-Württemberg has already ruled the new VOC requirements to be illegal, as there is no proven need for them.

In the light of MMVTB 2019/1 being both potentially illegal and certainly detrimental to the Single Market, EPF urges:

  • Germany’s Federal States to immediately suspend any action to introduce the VOC requirements for panels expressed in MVVTB 2019/1 into their own state building codes;
  • The European Commission to accelerate the finalisation of a Delegated Act (already in process in DG GROW), to harmonise the classification of VOC performance in construction products.

Europe’s panel producers stand resolutely behind a harmonised set of European rules, and firmly against the fragmentation of Europe’s Single Market driven by solo actions of Member States, such as the current one. EPF calls for these urgent actions for the welfare of Europe’s half a billion citizens.

Ursula von der Leyen’s new Commission

  • Ursula von der Leyen’s new Commission

The incoming Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveiled the portfolio allocations for the new college of European Commissioners last week. The appointments are still subject to confirmation by the European Parliament, in a series of hearings starting 23 September and set to run for a couple of weeks.

On behalf of the wood-based panel industry, we would like to congratulate Frans Timmermans, Sylvie Goulard and Virginijus Sinkevičius on their nominations as the members of the incoming Commission who will be most concerned with our sector of the European economy.

  • Frans Timmermans – The European Green Deal

Politically, one of President von der Leyen’s most important objectives is the European Green Deal, which aims to bring Europe’s ambitions on tackling climate change, energy policy and environmental protection to a new level. This includes enshrining the target for EU climate neutrality into law by 2050, and more ambitious goals on reducing emissions. To deliver on this promise, President von der Leyen has nominated Frans Timmermans, a Dutch Social Democrat and an incumbent Commission Vice President from the Juncker college.

As part of our industry contribution to the Green agenda, we are proud that the natural carbon sink properties of wood-based panels make the increased use of harvested wood products, such as panels, an ideal route towards the EU’s achievement of the Paris Agreement’s climate goals. Thanks to their positive effects on the environment, natural materials such as wood-based panels are well placed to contribute to the global efforts to mitigate climate change. For this reason, we urge for greater use of panels in furniture, construction, packaging and in other every day applications.

To find out more, please consult our website

  • Sylvie Goulard – Internal Market

Sylvie Goulard is a former member of the European Parliament and has been nominated for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs portfolio in the new College of Commissioners.

One of her tasks will be ensuring that the EU Circular Economy Action Plan feeds into the overall EU industrial strategy. To this end, we welcome Mrs Goulard’s ambition to implement the Action Plan and to ensure an efficient and optimal use of European resources, including wood-based materials.

We also encourage Commissioner Goulard to maintain harmonised European rules as a cornerstone of the Single Market, especially in the context of the Construction Products Regulation. We oppose fragmentation on every level and promote common legislation throughout Europe for the production, import and marketing of wood-based panels.

We firmly believe that a level playing field is central to the re-establishment of a strong industrial core at the heart of Europe. For this reason, EPF has recently joined a coalition of 145 European federations known as Industry4Europe.  Together we call on the European Union to implement an ambitious EU industrial strategy with a long-term vision and action plan

To find out more about how we support Industry4Europe, please consult the website.

 

  • Virginijus Sinkevičius – Environment and Oceans

The Lithuanian nominee Virginijus Sinkevičius will be the first-ever “Greens” Commissioner. In this capacity he will lead the Commission’s work on the new Circular Economy Action Plan, looking at how to contribute to a climate-neutral economy by increasing material circulation, encouraging sustainable material cycles and addressing the environmental impact of the sourcing of raw materials.

To that end, we encourage him to enhance the role of natural materials and, in particular, the role of wood-based panels in the EU’s bio and circular economy ambitions. Panels use material from sustainable sources, with more than half of the woody biomass raw material being either recycled or an industrial by-product.

Panels are a model example of the circular economy, especially due to the principle of the “cascading use” of wood. By using, re-using and recycling wood, our industry seeks to keep this valuable resource in the material and economic cycle as long as possible.

To find out more about how we support the “cascading use” of wood, please consult our website, and to find out more about our sustainability priorities, please click here.