Guest interventions DG CLIMA and New European Bauhaus at EPF Technical and Environmental WG meetings

EPF held its Technical and Environmental Working Group meetings this week.

On 8 February, we were very pleased to welcome two guests, Mr Christian Holzleitner (HoU – Directorate-General for Climate Action) and Mr Borut Cink (Community Manager and Policy Officer at the Joint Research Centre) to our Environmental Working Group meeting.

Mr Christian Holzleitner delivered a presentation on the Proposal for a Regulation on an EU certification for carbon removals.

In his intervention, he stressed that our main objective is to make Europe climate neutral by 2050. Mr Holzleitner shed light on several options to reach this net zero aim by taking more CO2 out of the atmosphere, including geological storage, carbon farming and carbon storage in long-lasting products, especially in the construction sector via the use of wood-based materials. Finding the right mix between these solutions is crucial, he added.

EPF was delighted to be invited by Mr Holzleitner to attend a workshop together with the wood-working industry to further develop discussions and actions, especially on carbon removals.

Mr Borut Cink briefed our members with the latest news related to the New European Bauhaus – its progress report, NEB Compass and other opportunities. He provided us with a presentation of the current and upcoming flagship initiatives such as:

  • NEB prizes – recognising contributors for the green transition, nationally and locally
  • the Dashboard – gathering geospatial data of the NEB activity
  • the digiNEB project – aiming at pooling digital resources dedicated to the New European Bauhaus
  • the future NEB Lab project – highlighting the role of wood in construction
  • the future NEB Academy – addressing the lack of skills and knowledge in the construction ecosystem

Workshops for further collaboration and training plans releated to NEB Academy are to be held at the University of Primorska (Slovenia) where EPF will be invited as an active part of the W4B AllianceEPF and W4B aim to contribute especially to how biobased materials can help to decarbonise the built environment.

EPF welcomes Isabelle Henin

We are delighted to announce Isabelle Henin as the new Administration and Communications Officer at EPF. She took up her new role on Monday, 9th January 2023.

Isabelle is Belgian with an academic background in communications and in political science, with a focus on international relations. Her mother tongue is French, she speaks fluent English and German and she has a working knowledge of Dutch, Portuguese and Italian.

Isabelle joined EPF from the Acolad Group where she was Project Manager for linguistic services.  Prior to that she was Communication and Events Assistant at EESC, the European Economic and Social Committee, a European Union institution.

Previous roles and internships include working in the EPP President’s office and being elected Secretary General of Belgian Youth Diplomacy.


EPF calls for 60% material use in REDIII

According to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre1, in the EU only 45% of EU biomass goes to material use, with 55% used for bioenergy. At EPF we believe that at least 60% of this in-demand resource should be preferred for material applications, such as wood-based panels. In this respect, EPF believes it is of the utmost importance to reinforce the implementation of principles for cascading use of biomass, circularity, and resource efficiency.

The current energy crisis has critically underlined the necessity of scaling up the roll out of renewable energies. Indeed, the negative effects the energy crisis has on the energy prices and market disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine further increases the pressure on woody biomass. It is of greatest importance that policy makers realise that burning wood is not the solution to Europe’s energy shortages. Providing state aid to support to further biomass energy developments distorts commercial markets and deprives material markets such as wood-based panels, paper industries and others of valuable material. As well as adding value to the wood material uses keep the carbon locked up in wood in some cases for many decades, after which it can either be recycled for another use phase or if not possible the energy can then be recovered. Wood is too valuable to squander by burning in the first instance.

In this respect, EPF calls for the necessity to maintain all references to the cascading principle and the waste hierarchy under Art.3 of the Directive. Enshrining the cascading principle is especially important given current supply chain difficulties and material shortages. The retention of the cascading use of wood in RED III, in line with the EC guiding principles of sustainability, resource efficiency, circularity, new products or markets, and subsidiarity is vital to avoid market distortions and ensure the security of supply of raw materials for the industry.

Furthermore, to meet the objectives of climate neutrality, it is important to enhance the sustainability criteria under Art.29 of the Directive to reduce early energy recovery, restore sustainable carbon cycles and increase carbon removals in circular and climate positive harvested wood products. It is essential that subsidies for bioenergy should not create market distortions for raw materials especially for woody biomass and prevent that high quality wood is diverted to energy markets, with associated negative impacts on resource efficiency, biodiversity and sustainable carbon sinks.

Therefore, EPF calls upon the negotiators to bear in mind the above when finalising trilogue negotiations. In the words of Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and keynote speaker at the recent NEB Into The Woods conference held in the presence of EC President Mrs Ursula von der Leyen: “Currently in Europe we are burning 50% of the wood that is harvested. Wood is too precious to be burned. We are burning the book of life before we have studied it”.

7 December 2022


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Press release: EPF experts explore techniques to enhance protection of workers against potential risks of fire or explosion accidents

Some 30 experts from EPF member companies gathered yesterday in Osoppo at FANTONI SPA to exchange experiences and discuss current practices on preventing fires and explosions to, ultimately, ensure the protection of the workers in the factories. This was the 4th meeting of this important task force that previously took place at UNILIN in Belgium and SONAE ARAUCO in Portugal with an online meeting during the Covid19 pandemic.

Following interesting presentations, with case studies from the last 25 years by FANTONI, the group visited the impressive factory with specific attention for those areas where incidents had taken place although fortunately without any injuries or casualties. The discussions promoted before and during the visit contributed to a sound benchmark and valuable learnings on WBP industrial safety.

Participants unanimously elected Mr Jose António Rocha of SONAE ARAUCO as Chairman and Mr Koen De Backer of UNILIN as Vice-Chairman. Furthermore, the group was delighted to welcome the invitation from FINSA to host the next meeting in Iberia during Spring next year.

Press Release: EPF applauds the inclusion of the cascade use of wood principle in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED III)

Brussels, 15 September 2022 – The European Panel Federation (EPF), representing the European manufacturers of particleboard, MDF, OSB, hardboard, softboard and plywood, welcomes the positive vote in the European Parliament Plenary on MEP Pieper’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) report on the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED III) as part of the ‘Fit for 55’ package.

This vote on the revised RED comes at a critical time for the energy sector especially if we are to achieve EU’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. EPF applauds that the Parliament resolution clearly recognises and underlines the need for alignment of bioenergy policies with the cascading principle[1] of biomass in line with resource efficiency through the prioritisation of the highest environmental and material added value for the use of biomass and by requiring respect of the waste hierarchy.

EPF is delighted that this will enshrine the cascading principle into the Directive allowing for the maintenance of sustainable carbon cycles in products such as wood-based panels, while ending market distorting subsidies for the burning of primary woody biomass for energy and limiting the burning of all woody biomass through enhanced sustainability criteria.

Mr Clive Pinnington, EPF Managing Director commented that “wood-based panels are natural, sustainable carbon stores, that contribute daily to the mitigation of climate change in furniture, construction, packaging and other applications. We are delighted that RED III will now allow these products to thrive on an increasingly level playing field”.

EPF’s Technical Director Mr Kris Wijnendaele welcomed the “efforts by the European Parliament to safeguard the material use of wood to manufacture high quality versatile products like furniture and sustainable nature-based building materials that are needed to realise the ambitions of the New European Bauhaus of EC President Mrs von der Leyen to turn the built environment from a greenhouse gas emitter into a carbon sink”.

EPF appreciates that ‘no later than one year after the entry into force of this amending Directive, the Commission shall adopt an implementing act on how to apply the cascading principle for forest biomass’. EPF stands ready to support on this and in the overall achievement of Europe’s New Green Deal.

EPF represents the manufacturers of wood-based panels being particleboard, dry process fibreboard (MDF), oriented strand board (OSB), hardboard, softboard and plywood. EPF has members in 25 EU countries. The EU wood panel industry has a turnover of about 22 billion euro every year and creates directly over 100,000 jobs. The production of wood-based panels in the EU-27 (+EFTA) in 2021 was an estimated 63.7 million m³.  

[1] In line with the cascading principle, woody biomass should be used according to its highest economic and environmental added value in the following order of priorities: 1) wood-based products, 2) extending their service life, 3) re-use, 4) recycling, 5) bio-energy and 6) disposal.



Press release: EPF rings in a new era of sustainability with a wooden bell

Brussels, 29 June 2022

The start of the 2022 Annual General Meeting of EPF, the European Panel Federation, will be marked by the inauguration of a wooden bell made entirely from wood-based panels by the arborist Ben Vanden Berghe. The EPF AGM 2022 takes place in Ghent from 29 June to 1 July.

By ringing this bell, EPF and Fedustria, the Belgian federation of the textile, wood and furniture industries and this year’s host of the AGM, intend to kick off a new era of sustainability in construction, furniture, packaging and other markets served by innovative wood-based panels.  As well as being active contributors to climate change mitigation through natural long-term carbon storage, these products from sustainable sources fit perfectly into the circular economy and optimise resource efficiency through the cascading use of wood. They represent both our past, and our way ahead.

Today, only 45% of Europe’s wood goes to material use. EPF calls on regulators, EU Institutions and consumers to embrace nature-based materials, to prefer the cascading use of wood and thus to drive this usage up to at least 60%. The era of sustainability is upon us.

As EPF Chairman Martin Brettenthaler stressed: “Together with our members and in the traditional yet progressive city of Ghent, the wood-based panels sector, a role model European industry, is proud to ring in the start of an exciting future.”


Press Release: Programme of the European Wood-Based Panels Symposium on 13-14 October 2022 in Hamburg, Germany

Brussels, 2 June 2022

Following the great success of the previous Wood-Based Panel Symposia, EPF is organising the 12th edition of this Technical Conference again this year following the regretful cancellation of the 2020 edition due to the COVID19 pandemic and the restrictions that made such a large gathering impossible.

The Symposium is again intended to serve as a forum for the wood-based panels industry, supplying industries, technology providers, consultancies, research, education and training institutes from Europe and beyond. This symposium will again be organised in co-operation with WKI-Fraunhofer Institut für Holzforschung and with the support of iVTH and Hywax (formerly Sasol Wax). The event will take place in the Grand Elysée Hotel in the centre of Hamburg, Germany, on 12-14 October 2022.

The event will be opened by plenary presentations by EPF Chairman and SWISS KRONO Group CEO Mr Martin Brettenthaler and Mr Edi Snaidero, Chairman of the European Furniture Industries Confederation (EFIC) followed by a speech by the Managing Director of the Confederation of European Paper Industries (CEPI), Mr Jori Ringman. We are also happy to announce that Prof Dr Tunga Salthammer from Fraunhofer WKI will present a critical review on the TVOC value during the 2nd day of the conference.

For the full programme, please click Here.

For more information and registration, please visit the website .

EcoReFibre Press Release: European Wood-Based Panels Industry scales up end-of-life recycling and circular use of recovered wood

Horizon Europe project EcoReFibre explores smart sorting and processing technologies to recycle post-consumer waste wood back into fibreboards and into novel building products. Five highly promising pilots with leading panel manufacturers are launched to demonstrate how Circular Economy approaches linked with innovative, digital-supported technologies will enable security of raw material supplies. EcoReFibre’s aim is to increase available wood resources in Europe.

For full Press Release, click EcoReFibre Press Release

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