First phase of tropical timber EPD project complete

The initial Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data collection phase of the international Dryades project to develop Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and Health Declaration Sheets (FDESs) for tropical timber is now complete.

Dryades was launched last year and is a joint initiative of the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT), its member companies and French timber trade association Le Commerce du Bois (LCB). Funded by the PPECF-COMIFAC central Africa forest certification programme, plus ATIBT members and LCB, the objective is to strengthen commercial prospects of verified sustainable tropical timber in an international market which attaches increasing importance to environmental performance and validation.

LCA based products’ environmental claims
ATIBT Managing Director Benoît Jobbé-Duval said Dryades was also prompted by increasing governmental demands for proof of construction products’ environmental impacts. “In the case of France, for example, when building product marketing includes environmental performance claims, manufacturers are required to provide an EPD, which gives the product’s complete environmental profile, principally based on life cycle analysis (LCA),” said Mr Jobbé-Duval.

The Dryades project is initially focused on Gabon, the Republic of Congo and Cameroon and the companies engaged in the first phase are Pallisco, IFO-Interholco, Precious Woods and ARBOR. Products covered in the LCI are logs, sawn timber, squares, hydraulic timber and sleepers, profiles (decking, joists, panelling, mouldings), veneers and plywood. It also encompasses strip and plywood siding, solid timber flooring and baseboards. Technical director of the project is consultancy ESTEANA, a French-based specialist in life cycle analysis in timber and sustainable construction. Verification of its findings will be undertaken by an independent auditor.

“Once the results of the LCI are in, the Dryades project team will define the validity framework of the LCI and EPD and develop a procedure for project stakeholders,” said ATIBT Project Manager Alessandra Negri.

Potential for upscaling
The Dryades team is also in contact on their potential involvement with Netherlands timber market development body Centrum Hout, which has extensive experience in timber LCA. ESTEANA has started analysis of the LCI data, with the first outcomes expected October. The resulting LCA will then undergo critical review.

“The data collection phase for the EPDs and FDESs will start in November, with the first results expected by the end of April 2022,” said Ms Negri. She added that currently Dryades has a finite objective and end point, in terms of developing EPDs and FDES for the products currently under evaluation. “However, given the importance of the project and the need to update the data – every five years for EPDs – a follow-up will certainly be envisaged,” she said.

Mr Jobbé-Duval said earlier that requirements for product environmental performance verification are also set to grow at European level. “As part of the strengthening of the EU Construction Products Regulation (CPR), the European Commission has drawn up a draft delegated act to make environmental declarations compulsory within the framework of CE European quality assurance marking of construction products,” he said.