Harvesting, manufacturing and quality standards are rising in industry, as are consumer expectations. In light of this fact, and as manufacturers, we must inform customers of our position regarding the certification of logging companies supplying us with raw materials. Given this perspective, PG Hardwood Flooring, Model Hardwood and Beauceville Flooring (hereafter referred to as PG Group) introduced a forest certification program in 2004. The purpose of the program is to encourage and support sustainable forest management.
Here are some facts provided by the Canadian Lumberman’s Association (CLA) on Canadian forestry harvesting:
To begin with, 50% of land in Canada consists of forests, 94% of which are public property with the remaining 6% privately owned. Among these forests, only one quarter are designated as commercial territories for wood harvesting. The logging industry annually harvests 0.4% of the commercial surface, while forest fires, insects and disease destroy another 0.5%. Moreover, the certified forestry surface in the country is expanding continuously.
In the matter of certification, PG Group has dealings with three organizations presently in operation: the CSA (Canadian Standards Association) with its Canadian standards in sustainable forest management, SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council). These three organizations manage standards programs that do not compete with each other. Rather, they complement each other, with each organization providing for the particular needs of its respective clientele. Standards certifying that forests are indeed managed in a sustainable manner and the chain of custody of wood are then enforced.
To obtain a certificate based on a particular standard, timber harvested in certified forests is first identified by markings and painted logos as part of the chain of custody. The marking process continues during subsequent stages in processing to ensure the transfer of information and separation of lumber. Thus, the customer is sure to obtain goods with a sustainable vocation when purchasing a certified product.
Certification is relatively expensive, and in some instances, as in the case of the FSC, it can be more costly than the market value of the products, making it impossible for some private producers to adhere to a certification program. Since most deciduous lumber is harvested from private land, it is obvious that not all our raw materials come from certified forests.
As a major consumer of raw materials, PG Group cannot limit purchases to one supplier alone. Consequently, it is evident that we cannot accept wood from lots operating under the criterion of a single standard. This is why we consider all sources of wood certified under the terms of a sustainable forest management standard acceptable, rather than accepting only raw materials corresponding to one standard in particular.
To meet expectations, our supply officers have already taken steps and will continue to base their decisions on four main priorities:
Source of raw material
Respect for raw material
Chain of custody
Recycling and reforestation
These guidelines are applied on a daily basis in our companies and clearly demonstrate environmental concerns supported by PG Group.
Raw Material Origin
Purchasing priority will be given to suppliers who apply two major principles of forestry management:
Harvesting plans: using different felling methods such as shelterwood cutting and selection cutting to favour and protect natural forest regeneration. These felling methods are approved by forestry engineers working for both government and industry. By supporting companies that harvest wood legally and responsibly, we hope to contribute to the survival of flora and wildlife and the conservation of biodiversity.
- Tree crop regeneration: ensuring that wood producers comply with reforestation (planting, seeding and natural regeneration) laws and regulations.
PG Group is committed to avoiding the use of non-certified wood from a controversial source. Accordingly, PG does not purchase:
- wood harvested illegally
- genetically modified wood
- wood harvested from forests affected by persistent social conflict
- wood from highly protected non-certified forests (according to the HCVF (High Conservation Value Forests)
In order better to know our raw materials suppliers and to underwrite our commitment to sustainable forest management, we visit each of our suppliers at least once a year. This allows us to follow up on written commitments. A letter describing our principles and requirements is based on a reference provided by the Québec Wood Export Bureau (Q-WEB). A sample of this letter may be found in appendix.
Respect for Raw Materials
From the standpoint of PG Group, raw materials warrant special consideration in order to avoid waste and, in so doing, decrease consumption.
These are the steps we have taken to date to encourage sustainable forestry and protect the environment:
Wood purchased by PG Hardwood Flooring and Model Hardwood is FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) accredited in terms of chain of custody.
Exotic hardwood (from Brazil) may also supplied by FSC suppliers accredited in terms of chain of custody.
We produce five widths of boards. Each piece of wood received from a supplier must be squared before being sent to the shaper. Since the sizing of output is random in some categories of widths, there can be material loss resulting from board rejection. A range of five widths offers better combinations and less loss during the edging process. – We now sell non value-added grades (Tavern and short boards 6 to 8 inches long, not included in our regular product line). Formerly, these grades of wood were processed as waste. This saving of raw material accounts for a significant percentage of all necessary consumption.
We have increased skid volume to 1040 square feet. Consequently, there are fewer blocks of wood between skids and boxes taking up available space during shipping. This action optimizes the use of loading space in trucks, which in turn decreases the number of individual loads for a given quantity of wood, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emission.
We store stickered wood in shelters. This prevents sunlight from drying the wood on top and along the sides of piles. Wood that dries too quickly changes the humidity levels in exposed wood, leading to constraints on the wood that exceed its mechanical resistance to cracks. By decreasing the percentage loss attributable to sunlight, we use fewer raw materials and contribute to a better quality environment.
A coat of wax is applied to the ends of all boards before drying and concrete blocks are used as weights. The wax prevents the appearance or lengthening of cracks and the concrete blocks improve the quality of pieces of wood drying on last rows at the top of piles. Both procedures contribute to decreasing raw material loss.
While awaiting processing, seasoned wood is stored in closed warehouses to minimize losses attributable to mould and exposure to sunlight.
Chain of Custody (traceability)
We have implemented an in-house procedure to trace wood right up to the finished product. All wood is coded upon receipt and follow-up is ensured at each stage, from production to packaging. The chain of custody does not contribute to any environmental improvement. Its purpose is to identify suppliers who sell us certified wood so that we may then affix the appropriate logo on boxes of finished products. When a consumer chooses boxes identified with a certification logo, he or she contributes to sustainable forest development by increasing the demand for these products.
Recycling and Reforestation
We use waste wood to heat our driers and buildings. Cogeneration is a responsible, efficient and reasonably priced way to produce steam. Steam is used to operate the driers. The waste we burn would otherwise have been buried in landfills, leading to high concentrations of organic matter in the soil and an increase in the concentration of toxic products such as mercury. Other sources of usable energy include natural gas or heating oil, but both release greenhouse gases in large quantities during combustion.
We also recycle all waste other than wood (paper, cardboard, metal, chemical products). Most of the products we recycle are then purified and re-used as raw materials for products made from recycled materials.
Sawdust from wood not burned is used in the production of derivative products. This kind of waste is used by various industries in the production of engineered wood products.
PG Group supports reforestation efforts through a sponsorship and awareness program aimed at both customers and the community at large. PG Group identifies specific programs involving reforestation and respect of the environment in order to help them achieve their objectives.
Awareness incentives have already been piloted by PG Group as, for example, the Saint-Édouard-de-Lotbinière elementary school program. In this program, several hundred softwood trees were purchased and distributed among the school children and our company employees. The public was very appreciative of this initiative. The purchase of teaching material on trees for elementary schools in the region has also proven very popular among teachers and students.
Finally, all land owned by PG Group will be completely reforested in cooperation with the local Groupement forestier.
At PG Hardwood Flooring, Model Hardwood and Beauceville Flooring, we are fully aware of the problems facing the forests of today and tomorrow. This is why we want to participate actively in the protection of our forests. We believe that decisions today to encourage sustainable forest management will guarantee a promising future.
We created a new website to present the environmental values we consider important. Visit http://www.pgmodel.com/global/planet/en/.
Certification and Membership
NWFA – National Wood Flooring Association
FSC – Forest Stewardship Council
WFCA – World Floor Covering Association
CLA – Canadian Lumbermen’s Association