EPF announces a 1.7% production increase for European Wood-based Panels in 2018, re-elects Dr Paolo Fantoni as Chairman, and confirms Mr Mārtiņš Lācis to the Managing Board

Last week, the European manufacturers of wood-based panels gathered in Dunblane, Scotland for their 2019 Annual General Meeting, generously hosted by Norbord Europe.

All attendees received a copy of the new EPF 2018/2019 Annual Report, the headline figures of which were presented during the meetings.  Overall the industry recorded a production growth during 2018 of 1.7%, led by increases on particleboard, plywood, hardboard and softboard.

Production (million m³) Countries 2018 2017 2018 v 2017
Particleboard EU28 + EFTA 32.0 31.2 2.6%
MDF EU28 + EFTA 12.3 12.3 -0.5%
OSB EU28 + EFTA 6.2 6.3 -1.6%
Hardboard EU28 + EFTA 0.5 0.5 1.5%
Softboard EU28 + EFTA 5.2 4.9 5.9%
Plywood EU28 3.2 3.1 1.7%
TOTAL WBP Total 59.3 58.3 1.7%

 

During the General Assembly, Dr Paolo Fantoni (Fantoni) was unanimously re-elected as Chairman of EPF for his third term from 2019-2021.  Mr Bernard Thiers (Unilin) remains Vice-Chairman. In addition, Mr Mārtiņš Lācis (Latvijas Finieris) will join the Managing Board of EPF as the new Chairman of the Plywood Product Group and successor to Mr Guillermo Hernanz (Garnica Plywood), who retired from this position that he had held since the plywood manufacturers joined EPF in 2016.

For the Open Part of the General Assembly, EPF welcomed more than 100 attendees to a stimulating debate on the opportunities to grow the demand for wood-based panels in construction, in furniture, in packaging and in other applications.  It concluded that an increased use of panels would bring multiple benefits, whilst helping to achieve the shared vision of a climate neutral Europe in 2050.

The next EPF AGM will be held on 17-19 June 2020, in Berlin, kindly hosted by VHI, our German member association.

For additional information, please contact EPF at info@europanels.org or on +32 2 556 2589.

EPF strongly supports the Single Market

EPF calls for European harmonisation of E1 as the minimum allowable standard, and for ½ E1 as a new market class

The European Wood-based Panel Federation (EPF) clarifies the common position of its members following developments in market, regulatory and judicial affairs, and with the unanimous agreement of its General Assembly given on 3 April 2019 in Brussels.

EPF strongly supports the single European market. It endorses harmonised standards across all EU-28 Member States. EPF welcomes the decision of the European Court of Justice in case T-229/17 on 10 April 2019, as it upholds the common European requirements of the Construction Products Regulation (CPR). This prevents fragmentation and the possible introduction of specific requirements by individual Member States. EPF feared the confusion that this could have caused to consumers.

European wood-based panels are used for furniture, construction, packaging and many other applications. CE-marked panels are produced according to EN 13986, the harmonised European standard for wood-based panels for use in construction. This defines two classes for formaldehyde emissions being E2 and E1. EPF members have committed since 2007 to make only E1 (or lower).

With its project E1 Compulsory, EPF seeks to ensure that no panels circulate in Europe with an emission level above that permitted by E1. ECHA’s recent proposal for a restriction recommends to: “… restrict the placing on the market or the use of all articles releasing formaldehyde at concentrations greater than or equal to 0.124 mg/m³ in the air of a test chamber used under the conditions prescribed in EN 717-1.” This matches E1, the ambition of EPF, and is thus supported.

With its project New Standard, EPF wishes to respond to market demand by adding a new class to the harmonised European standards to be known as ½ E1, with emission limits set at half the value of E1, tested according to EN 717-1. A request for such an additional class (see Annex for further details) has been made to the European Commission and CEN (European Committee for Standardization), asking for the fastest possible introduction, and is currently under consideration.

Chairman Dr Paolo Fantoni comments: “EPF members expect for E1 to be confirmed EU-wide as the minimum requirement for concerned panels by the current restriction process, thus delivering greater regulatory control, and for ½ E1 to be introduced as a new voluntary European class as soon as possible, thus responding to market demand”. Precise timings, especially for ½ E1, remain open due to various issues, including available testing capacity.

EPF urges caution on any demands for panels that go beyond these, especially if they infringe CPR which delivers common European requirements and a level playing field for construction products, including wood-based panels. EPF will give the latest update on the rapidly evolving topics of E1 and ½ E1, as well as on other EPF activities at its Press Conference to be held on Tuesday, 21 May 2019 at Interzum in Cologne.  All press contacts are warmly invited to attend.

EPF Proposal for a new Formaldehyde class – April 2019

EU Conference “Our Forests Our Future” – Brussels, 25-26 April 2019

The European Commission organised a significant conference “Our Forests, Our Future” to analyse opportunities to enhance the forest sector’s contribution to EU priorities. High-level speakers included Commissioner Phil Hogan (Agriculture & Rural Development), Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete (Climate Action & Energy) and Commissioner Neven Mimica (International Cooperation and Development).  EPF was honoured to share the same podium, Managing Board member and Garnica Plywood Director, Mr Guillermo Hernanz having been invited to deliver a unique perspective on this topic, especially plantation forestry, from Southern Europe.

 

 

Sustainable forest management, the multifunctional role of forests, resource efficiency and global forest responsibility are the guiding principles of the EU Forest Strategy, adopted in 2013. In 2018, a review of the strategy took stock of the actions implemented under the strategy, and the progress towards achieving its objectives for 2020. It concluded that 90% of the required actions had either been completed, or were underway, as highlighted by Commissioner Hogan in his opening address.  Commissioner Hogan used the platform to urge that a new strategy be launched after the completion of the current one.

The first day sessions focused on the contribution of forests and the forest-based sector to innovation, growth and jobs, on EU priorities and on opportunities and challenges (balancing GHG emissions) following the Paris Agreement.  EPF’s Board member Mr Guillermo Hernanz (Garnica Plywood) participated in the panel discussion on the increased demand for wood-based renewable energy, the search for bio-materials and the drive towards zero carbon buildings and products.  In particular, he was asked to comment on whether the price and value of wood today will encourage a new generation of forestry?  He highlighted the contribution of wood-based panels to the EU’s long-term ambition of a climate neutral Europe, emphasising that wood-based panels sequester carbon long after a tree is harvested.  He presented the benefits of plywood, especially its application as a lightweight and structurally strong product.  He called on the EU to support poplar and plantation forestry, especially in Southern Europe, where the future availability of suitable plywood raw material will be very challenging.

It should be highlighted that the Moderator, when introducing Mr Guillermo Hernanz, said that he had looked up EPF on the internet, and had been amazed to find that the industry accounts for 22 billion EUR of turnover and 100,000 jobs.  He was astonished (and delighted) to discover that this was such an important industry and was thus all the more pleased to welcome Garnica and EPF to the podium.  During the panel discussion he was furthermore boosted by the discovery that almost all of the wood-based panel industry’s biomass raw material comes from Europe, and he shared his pleasure in learning this with the 300-400 high level delegates present.  In short, this was a fantastic and very positive promotional occasion for EPF, enabled by the invitation to Mr Hernanz to participate as a speaker at the conference.

Trade Issues with Stakeholders in Morocco

 

On 5 April 2019, EPF joined the EU delegation to Morocco and 4 EU Member States in a meeting with the Moroccan Industry Ministry in Rabat to defend the interests of the European coated particleboard exporters against a possible safeguard measure.

By protecting the sole domestic particleboard producer, thousands of jobs in the Moroccan furniture industry could be put at risk.

For more information: https://www.lavieeco.com/news/economie/entreprises/bois-revetu-les-dessous-du-differend-opposant-cema-bois-de-latlas-aux-importateurs.html

With 120 participants, this was unprecedented in Morocco and raised interest by major domestic press. Debates between Moroccan stakeholders were at some point very lively.

For more information: https://www.leconomiste.com/article/1041597-bois-la-surprenante-piste-europeenne-de-l-antidumping

EPF made its position clear and intervened during the public hearing on commercial defence held by the Moroccan Industry Ministry on 28 February 2019.

Morocco launched its safeguard investigation on coated particleboard imports in July 2018. Responding robustly, EPF capitalised on previous experience, such as its successful 2015 intervention in the Tunisian safeguard investigation (now shelved). EPF advocates strongly for its members’ interests anywhere in the world.

EPF member of Industry4Europe

EPF is delighted to have become a Member of the Industry4Europe coalition: 157 organisations from across the EU will campaign for an ambitious EU industrial strategy. Industry4Europe will help to set the vision for the long-term future of the EU’s industrial and manufacturing strategy.

Industry4Europe published several Joint Papers and Declarations on establishing an ambitious Industrial Strategy. The latest Industry4Europe joint call to the EU27 ahead of the European Council Summit at the end of March 2019 asked for a vision to ensure that Europe remains a hub for a leading, smart, innovative & sustainable industry, that benefits all Europeans and future generations.

On 10 April 2019, Industry4Europe & the Romanian Permanent Representation to the EU organised a joint strategy event: “Setting the scene for an industrial vision for 2030 and beyond”. The EU27 invite the European Commission to present by the end of 2019 a long-term vision for the EU’s industrial future, with concrete measures to implement it, addressing the challenges European industry faces and touching upon all relevant policy areas.