Collaboration between the Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC) and FSC Italy has seen the Italian arm of international home improvement retail giant Leroy Merlin implement an STTC Action Plan to increase sales of certified timber products.
The success is now prompting the two organisations to explore working jointly with other diy chains and large retailers on sustainable timber procurement.
French-based Leroy Merlin (LM) today has 400 branches in 12 countries, mostly in Europe, but including Brazil and China. Corporate social responsibility and environmental impacts are a growing focus of the business worldwide and its CSR programme includes developing environmentally friendly stores and initiatives to help customers lower the environmental impact of their houses. In 2010 it also started an active programme to offer FSC or PEFC certified timber products and garden furniture.
Subsequently its Italian operation approached FSC Italy in 2014 to scale up the proportion of outdoor furniture and other garden wood products sold as certified and to increase marketing around them. This led to an approach to STTC to develop this as a co-funded Action Plan (AP), which was agreed, with half the €30,000 budget for the project provided by the Coalition.
The comprehensive AP programme of activities included special training by FSC Italy of LM Italy management, purchasing, marketing and administrative staff. It also saw production of customer videos in the tropics explaining sustainable forest management and the importance of buying certified timber. Monitoring of sustainable procurement was also started.
The target was to increase sale of FSC certified wood garden products from 50% of LM’s total in 2014, representing 1050m3 of timber, to 80% or 1400m3 this year. In fact it has hit 90%, or 2320m3.
FSC Italy Director Diego Florian described the project as a success and a valuable example for other businesses. “We’re happy with this collaboration with Leroy Merlin Italy,” he said. “It shows once again that FSC certification is both a significant market tool for businesses and a guarantee for responsible consumers, including when considering tropical timber”.
To maintain the AP’s momentum, LM Italy last Spring launched an in- store promotional campaign focused on the role consumers can play in preserving forests by buying certified timber products. Based on FSC’s new ‘Forests for all, forever’ branding, this used point of sale cards, pull-up banners, and promotional leaflets, all including a QR code linking to the FSC’s “Feel The Forest” video.
“We now see further opportunities for FSC and STTP to work with the retail sector to drive the establishment and development of sustainable timber procurement policies” said Mr Florian.