An article published recently by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) argues that the European Union plywood market has been affected significantly by enforcement of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) that came into effect on 3 March 2013. ITTO are already observing strong signals indicating a shift to alternative products and supply sources market. Buyers are turning away from Chinese mixed light hardwood (MLH) plywood, for which importers claim it is difficult to obtain reliable evidence of legal origin.
“Chinese plywood manufacturing companies are adjusting to the EUTR by substituting face and back veneers in these species with FSC certified or OLB (Origine et Légalité du Bois) verified African sapele veneer, or FSC and PEFC certified Malaysian meranti”, the article states. Furthermore, other European importers are sourcing plywood faced with plantation-grown eucalyptus, which is easier to trace, or are exploring the use of European beech for face and back veneers.
Similarly, in the softwood market, European importers are turning away from Chinese plywood manufactured with Russian birch and spruce due to concerns about evidence of legality. Instead, birch and softwood plywood manufactured in the EU may be preferred or, the article argues, “it might also benefit elliotii pine plywood from plantations in southern Brazil, a significant proportion of which are certified and generally regarded as lower risk from a legality perspective”.