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Contribution of the woodworking sector in the carbon balance

Contribution of the woodworking sector in the carbon balance

In order to maximise the benefits offered by wood products in the carbon balance and to enhance the competitiveness of the European woodworking industry and its capacity to drive innovation, the European Economic and Social Committee has drawn up the following recommendations.

The EESC invites Member States to explore all opportunities related to using wood as an environmentally-friendly material in order to boost the competitiveness of this sector, promote employment and support investment in research and innovation.

The EESC calls on the European Commission to draw up European guidelines on wood supply in order to increase wood supply and promote sustainable use of wood sources. Resource efficiency principles should be included. The recommendations set out in the Good practice guidance on the sustainable mobilisation of wood in Europe (2010) should be taken into consideration and, if necessary, developed.

The EESC recalls the importance of excluding "pallets and recovered post-consumer wood" from the definition of "tertiary biomass."

As pointed out in the EESC opinion on "Opportunities and challenges for a more competitive European woodworking and furniture sector" adopted in October 2011 , and in line with the principles set out in the recent EU Communication on "Towards a circular economy: A zero waste programme for Europe", the EESC highlights the fact that the "cascade use" principle (use, re-use, recycling, energy recovery) – when economically and technically feasible in accordance with specific national and regional features – represents the optimal way to maximise the resource-efficient use of wood. The EESC is pleased that following its request to recognise the importance of the cascade principle of wood, this principle has been transposed into several EU documents such as the European Industrial Renaissance, the New EU Forest Strategy and the Commission staff working document on "A blueprint for the EU forest-based industries (woodworking, furniture, pulp & paper manufacturing and converting, printing)" accompanying the Communication on "A new EU Forest Strategy: for forests and the forest-based sector". However, the EESC cannot support the notion of legally binding rules and is in favour of an open market-based approach and the freedom of market participants.

Management options for building materials should include measures to avoid recycling materials, such as wood, going to landfills. The EESC calls on the EU Commission and the interested stakeholders to define guidelines and recommendations on wood waste collection and solutions for the treatment of post-consumer wood.

The EESC calls on the EU Commission to introduce a norm that properly reflects the acoustic characteristics of enclosed spaces, given that that wood can play an essential role in acoustic insulation. In fact wood has the capacity to insulate rooms acoustically from external noises and to reduce reverberation time. Opportunities related to wood applications should be explored.

The EESC calls upon the Member States and interested stakeholders to define national action plans designed to enhance the use of wood in buildings and green infrastructures. Local authorities should be directly involved in the implementation of these action plans.

Recognising that wood does not enjoy the same familiarity among builders and architects as other materials, the EESC invites Member States to set up initiatives in order to promote a wood culture. Moreover, the representatives of the European woodworking industries and the European social partners should define coordinated national campaigns in order to give a more attractive image of the sector.

This initiative opinion aims at implementing the recent European legislation on accounting rules on greenhouse gas emissions and removals resulting from activities relating to forestry from an industrial and economical perspective. In particular a new legislative approach will be proposed in this context.