What is sustainable timber?

Sustainable timber refers to timber that has been harvested responsibly from well managed forests that are continuously replenished and ensure that there is no damage to the surrounding environment, or to native flora and fauna. In the USA and UK the main ways to demonstrate timber is sustainable is by obtaining certification from either the FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC® (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). Accoya® has FSC certification.

Sustainable timber sourcing

Timber from well managed sources, such as FSC® certified forests, is a natural, renewable solution for global environmental problems such as climate change, ecosystem destruction and landscape deterioration caused by increasing consumption. Besides forming a natural ecological habitat, forests are actually an important carbon sink by filtering CO2 out of the air and absorbing this in the biomass of the tree. In the case of responsible management, it is actually better to harvest as much timber as is sustainable for production of durable products such as furniture or construction products, which act as additional carbon stores while providing the forest with the opportunity to regenerate and produce new biomass (acting as new carbon sink).

Hardwood sustainability

However, supplies of certified slow growing tropical hardwoods suitable for outdoor use are limited, resulting in illegal logging which, in turn, leads to the deforestation of tropical rainforests. While in the tropical regions, deforestation is still continuing, in temperate regions such as in Europe and North America the net forest area has been increasing steadily for several decades. Hardwoods take many decades to mature, some are not suitable for logging until they are over 100. In addition, they often need a great deal of space to grow. So it is valid to question if hardwood can ever be considered to be a sustainable material given the amount of space they need and relatively low timber yields.

Softwood: Sustainable Timber

The amount of hardwood that can be harvested from any patch of land is much smaller than the equivalent harvest of softwood would be. Considering the increasing pressure on available resources, the use of softwood species that produce larger volumes of wood over the same time span for the same area of land offers obvious environmental advantages. Softwoods are fast-growing and produce good yields over a moderate span of time whilst sequestering carbon faster. This is why softwood lumber is so much more sustainable than hardwood.

Accoya®: Raw Material

To produce Accoya®, only abundantly available sustainable timber species are being used from certified, sustainably managed forests and plantations, including FSC® certified woods. Fast growing softwood species such as Radiata Pine are primarily used to produce Accoya®. All Accoya® is compliant with the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR) as well as the Lacey Act, and therefore responsible production is guaranteed.

What is FSC® timber? The FSC® (Forest Stewardship Council) is an independent international organisation. In order to supply FSC certified timber, we have to prove our forests are managed in an environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable manner.

Annual Yield
in m3 sawn timber/ha/yr

Resources FAO (2006). Global Planted Forests Thematic Study: Results and Analysis. FAO (2001). Mean Annual Volume Increment of Selected Industrial Forest Plantation Species. Lamc, D. (2011). Regreening the Bare Hills. FAO (2016). Definition of the Parameters and Formulas used in the Wood Supply Projection. Cossalter, C. And Pye-Smith, C (2003). Fast-Wood Foresty- Myths and Realities, CIFOR.

Corporate Social Responsibility

The acetylation plant of Accsys Technologies is located in Arnhem, the Netherlands, and uses acetic anhydride in the production of Accoya® wood and generates acetic acid as a by-product of acetylation which is sold for reuse in a wide range of industries including the food industry (the Accsys acetylation plant is even halal and kosher approved).

Besides the responsible sourcing of timber (see above), Accsys only works with suppliers with a clear and transparent Corporate Social Responsibility policy. Accsys itself is a founding member of the Social Stock Exchange (SSE), which is a leading platform to showcase publicly listed social and environmental impact businesses. Accsys has fulfilled the robust admission criteria set by SSE, based on several CSR parameters, published in the SSE Social Impact Report (see below).

Furthermore, Accsys Technologies operates under a management system that addresses all issues regarding quality, safety, health and environmental aspects (QSHE) in order to comply with local Western manufacturing legislation and beyond. The plant is subject to regular inspections, certifications and quality assurance undertaken by Accsys’ staff and accredited certification bodies and even meets the strict manufacturing criteria of Cradle to Cradle certification, at the rigorous Gold level  including 50% use of renewable energy during manufacturing.

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