I regret that, as I predicted, nothing has changed and draconian ‘carbon’ laws – and of course taxes – have continued to proliferate in the last 12 months, at least in the UK, where they create revenue for a government seriously in need of some liquidity.
However, on a recent visit to China I once again visited a number of state-of-the-art panel production lines supplied mainly from European manufacturers, which have no emissions control other than dust collection – and they are not required by law to have such equipment. The atmosphere in most regions I visited was severely affected by smoke and other industrial pollution as China’s economic growth continues apace – and China is not alone in its lack of environmental legislation for its industry. That puts panel manufacturers in countries which do have such legislation at an additional competitive disadvantage, but I believe things will change in China, sooner or later.
Rising costs for resins due to the oil supply situation, coupled with wood supply problems, are a further headache for all the world’s panel makers and in this issue of the magazine there is a plea from the European woodworking associations to the European Commission to do something about log export levels which are endangering their industries (p65). This is in addition to the strains placed on wood supplies by the rise in, and subsidy of, biomass power generation in Europe.
All this makes the rapid expansion of Turkey’s wood panel businesses all the more remarkable, when the country does not have enough forests to supply its raw material.
Turkey is in fact the main country featured in our Focus on Europe and, while some of its panel makers are using domestically-sourced wood, most of it is imported, either as logs or chips, from as far away as North America.
How do they compete? Well, the other outstanding feature of the Turkish panel industry is its commitment to value-adding – in a wide variety of ways from more conventional melamine facing, to moulded thick MDF doors, to doorskins.
Finding such innovative ways of adding more value would seem to be an essential ingredient for all panel makers in an increasingly competitive world market.