Timber species verification a reliable tool for conducting due diligence for EUTR

Posted on 10/04/2015

Plywood importers struggling to get to grips with EU Timber Regulations should get their products independently verified, according to BM TRADA, after an official investigation found a number of operators had fallen foul of the regulations.

BM TRADA’s species verification tool offers plywood importers a reliable tool for conducting due diligence. The report state “unreliability of paperwork was ubiquitous, indicating that this is a clear area for concern in due diligence procedures”. Since species verification examines wood species present in plywood, it provides a far more reliable method for conducting due diligence.

Where plywood importers through their due diligence procedures perceive there to be a risk that accompanying documentation is inaccurate, BM TRADA recommends additional timber species verification checks are carried out.

The NMO’s Chinese Plywood enforcement project findings were reported in EUTR: Plywood imported from China published in February 2015. NMO identified 16 UK companies as “operators” under the EUTR. Of these 14 submitted “insufficient” due diligence systems, mainly due to a lack of narrative explaining how the combination of document gathering, risk assessment and mitigation enabled them to conclude a negligible risk of illegal timber sourcing.

The NMO also purchased products from a number of these companies and subjected them to microscopic analysis. Of the 13 purchases tested, 9 failed to match the declaration supplied by each company regarding timber species used. These companies are now facing possible sanctions.

This indicates that some Chinese plywood importers need to improve their due diligence processes. For Chinese plywood, due diligence relying solely on documentation may be considered high risk. Additional species verification testing of Chinese plywood will provide importers with confidence that what is claimed in documentation relating to plywood they place onto the market is accurate.

In September 2014, BM TRADA, working with TRADA, held a workshop with UK plywood importers and traders to highlight the types of plywood testing we offer, which includes species verification testing to support due diligence procedures. With the threat of large fines or even a prison sentence at stake, it could not have been more timely.

Timber species verification assesses whether timber either in its ‘raw’ form or when manufactured into a product is what it is claimed to be. Timber species verification is something that BM TRADA has undertaken on behalf of clients for many years although interest has increased with the introduction of the EUTR particularly where clients have concerns about their suppliers. It is important to highlight that the microscopic methods BM TRADA use are the same as those employed by NMO and that we have already undertake species verification testing on plies for clients.

Andy Pitman, timber species identification expert at BM TRADA stated “from an EUTR perspective all the species contained in a product or item must be included on the accompanying documentation, and can therefore be subject to scrutiny,” and goes on to state  “We are able to examine timber samples to confirm whether they are made from the wood claimed in accompanying documentation provided by your supplier.”
BM TRADA believe that on-going species verification testing of Chinese plywood is a sensible approach until Chinese manufacturers can demonstrate they have appropriate controls in place that govern the plies included in their products. The NMO report also shows the importance of testing both core and face veneers with multiple species contained in some plywoods. BM TRADA recognises that testing of plywood to be a greater challenge than testing of solid wood products.

The NMO report highlighted that “the combined value of the imports of the companies involved in the project amounted to 10% of the plywood imported from China into the UK last year” and “as a result the NMO are likely to conduct a similar project in this project area in the future”.

For further information on BM TRADA’s timber verification service and how this can help with your due diligence procedures click here or contact Dr Andy Pitman on 01494 569625 / apitman@bmtrada.com

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Plywood importers struggling to get to grips with EU Timber Regulations should get their products independently verified, according to BM TRADA, after an official investigation found a number of operators had fallen foul of the regulations