I hope you will forgive me if I return to the theme of my comment in the last issue concerning the fact that our industry seems to be continually under attack on the environmental/emissions/wood supply front, but something was said at a conference I attended shortly after writing that piece which concerned me deeply.
One of the speakers at the TAPPI DIL symposium (p50), speaking in the context of saving paper, said: “…and this saves trees and that has got to be a good thing”.
That statement went unchallenged – unquestioned – even by an audience full of forest products specialists.

Why has “saving treesgot to be a good thing? Trees are the crop which we harvest to produce panels and decorative papers. They are replanted to produce more wood in order to produce more panels and decorative papers. The industry’s products lock up carbon and the young growing trees absorb CO2 and store it as carbon (which we are told is vital for the climate). So where is the problem in cutting down trees – as long as they are grown and harvested sustainably, of course. What needs to be stopped is the burning of that resource for energy production, thus releasing the carbon. Plant MORE trees, I say!
The most worrying aspect of that speaker’s statement is that it went unchallenged. Are even people who should know better coming to accept mis-informed ‘environmental’ propaganda as ‘fact’?
On a similar note, I can understand why Tom Julia, president of the CPA, said at the same symposium: “The CPA supports the CARB rule [on formaldehyde emissions] and its conditional
federalisation. There is no opportunity to roll this rule back…”
This has to be seen as a pragmatic approach, and a way for the whole industry to avoid getting a bad reputation, but I still believe the formaldehyde/cancer ‘hysteria’ is unfounded in scientific fact – ask the Formaldehyde Council (or see WBPI issue 6, 2007, p49).
What will be the next pressure the industry gives in to? What other accusations based on flawed science will it be persuaded to accept as ‘fact’, for which there will be further draconian legislation?
The CARB rule has serious ramifications. As Mr Julia pointed out, inspectors can ‘deconstruct’ your panel product, removing surface coverings for example, and thus test it in a form in which you did not sell it. You would still be liable for its failure – potentially with very serious consequences for your business. And that is
neither fair nor reasonable.
Beware the march of further ill-informed regulation – and thoughtless statements such as that one about “saving trees”.