Backing tropical timber products’ with EPDs
The ATIBT, in association with member companies, has initiated a project to develop Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Environmental and Health Declaration Sheets (FDES) for construction products in African tropical timber. Called Dryades and backed by private and public sectors, the aim is to improve products’ commercial prospects in an international market increasingly focused on environmental impact and performance.
The initiative is being funded by the PPECF-COMIFAC programme, which backs forest certification in the Congo Basin, and ATIBT members Pallisco, Precious Woods, CIB-Olam, IFO-Interholco and French timber trade federation Le Commerce du Bois. ATIBT General Manager Benoît Jobbé-Duval said Dryades had been prompted by growing government requirement across Europe for evidence of construction products’ environmental credentials. “In the particular case of France, when building product marketing includes environmental performance communication, manufacturers are required to issue an EPD. This gives the product’s complete environmental profile, based principally on life cycle analysis (LCA),” said Mr Jobbé-Duval.
He added that, under France’s new environmental regulation RE2020, part of its strategy to ‘decarbonize construction’, the sector will also have to detail the environmental impact of new buildings throughout their life and present the data in FDESs. “Likewise, at European level, as part of the strengthening of the Construction Products Regulation (CPR), the European Commission has drawn up a draft delegated act to make environmental declarations compulsory within the framework of the CE (European quality assurance) marking of construction products,” said Mr Jobbé-Duval.
The aim of Dryades is to help suppliers in Cameroon, Gabon and Republic of the Congo put a range of construction products through LCA, including flooring, windows, doors and other joinery, leading to generation of EPDs and FDESs. The arrangement is yet to be finalised, but it is hoped that it will also be able to draw on the tropical timber LCA expertise and experience of Netherlands timber market development operation Centrum Hout – a potential collaboration discussed at the 2019 STTC annual conference.
The project is set to get underway later this year and to deliver its first EPDs and FDESs by June 2021. “Even if it starts for the French market and there are small differences between European regulations, we’d ultimately like Dryades to cover the needs of construction at European level,” said Mr Jobbé-Duval. “Beyond LCB, a contribution from European federations is possible to extend the benefits of the project to other countries.”
LCAs and EPDs on sheet piling, pile planking, road safety barriers, decking and bicylce bridges can already be found on the STTC website.