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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 18th January 2012

 

Report of the Leader

 

Purchase of Timber and Wood Products

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To provide further details of the Council’s current processes for the legal procurement of timber and wood products together with details of the World Wildlife Fund (“WWF”) Bronze pledge scheme to stop the trade in illegal and unsustainable timber and improve the way wood products are bought. 

Recommendations

1.             That Cabinet notes the Council’s current arrangements for the procurement of timber and wood products when considering whether to sign up to the WWF Bronze pledge to stop the trade in illegal and unsustainable timber.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To provide Cabinet with further information on the current process within the Council for ensuring that procurement of timber and wood products and the details of the World Wildlife fund (WWF) Bronze pledge scheme.

Background

2.             The Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) had, on 11th October, 2011 considered a request in relation to signing up to the WWF pledge to help stop the trade in illegal and unsustainable timber.  The Committee had been informed that the Sustainability Working Group of officers had recently discussed the matter and had concluded that a pledge at Bronze level would be consistent with the work already being undertaken by the Council.  The Committee had consequently asked Cabinet to consider signing up to the WWF Bronze Pledge to stop the trade in illegal and unsustainable timber.

3.             At the meeting of 2nd November 2011 Cabinet resolved that the recommendation from the Scrutiny Committee be noted and that Cabinet receives a report on the issue to assist in the further consideration of the same (Minute No.C1491 refers).

Relevant Issues and Options

4.             The WWF has estimated that more than 1.5 million cubic metres of timber imported into the UK is from illegal sources, with the public sector responsible for around 20% of all timber purchased. This includes things like paper, furniture, fencing, pallets and timber for construction, plywood or doors.

5.             WWF is committed to supporting councils to improve the way they buy wood and paper and is working to make it easier for them to improve the way they buy wood products. The charity is working with CPET (the UK government’s Central Point of Expertise on Timber) to provide support and advice.

6.             Because the public sector procures so much wood, WWF has invited local authorities to sign a timber pledge as part of a “What Wood You Choose” campaign.  There are three levels of pledge: Gold, Silver and Bronze. If they achieve their commitment, participants will be provided with help to promote their success and awarded a special ‘badge’ to display on their websites and newsletters.

7.             The report originally submitted to Scrutiny Committee set out the concerns of WWF in relation to the estimated 1.5 million cubic metres of timber imported annually into the UK from illegal sources and the role of the public sector which is responsible for around 20% of all timber purchased (including things like paper, furniture, fencing, pallets, timber for construction, plywood or doors).

8.             The report also outlined the fact that Council’s current Procurement Policy, Strategy and Guidance was specifically aimed at working to meet our sustainable development commitment and objectives by working in partnership with others towards a more sustainable community and economy, aiming to reduce the environmental impact of its procurement decisions.

9.             Signing up to the WWF bronze pledge involves the following key commitments:

·               we will attend a CPET workshop or host a CPET/WWF seminar on responsible procurement of forest products, and the importance of valuing forest resources;

·               we will train our key staff on responsible procurement of forest products.

10.        The implications of the different pledges were originally considered by the Council’s Sustainable Development Working Group of officers who felt that the Council’s current’s approach to timber procurement was compatible with the aims of WWF at Bronze pledge level. Pledges at the WWF Silver or Gold level would have implications for monitoring and could be resource intensive and complicated in particular to monitor materials procured by sub contractors.

11.        In order to provide Cabinet with further information on this matter, the Head of Accountancy & Resource Management subsequently attended a CPET workshop in November 2011 where the following issues were covered:

·               UK Government’s Timber Procurement Policy

·               legality and Sustainability definitions

·               evidence of compliance

·               Forest certification schemes

·               contract conditions

·               policy implementation

·               case studies. 

12.        Attendance at the workshop it has also meant that one of the two requirements of the WWF Bronze pledge has been met.

13.        The workshop provided an extremely useful checklist to ensure that as a local authority, the Vale of Glamorgan Council, can evidence whether the timber and timber products it procures meet the required forest certification schemes of the Forest Stewardship Council (“FSC”) or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (“PEFC”).

14.        This is accepted as “Category A” evidence in meeting the UK Government’s criteria for legality and sustainability (the latter requiring products or product lines to contain more than 70% certified or recycled raw material) and is consistent with the Council’s current procurement approach. A summary of this checklist is attached at Appendix A.

15.        The WWF have indicated that the window for local authorities to make a pledge will end on 24th March 2012 although they will continue to support councils in ensuring that timber and timber products are both legally and sustainably procured.

16.        Irrespective of the WWF campaign, it is proposed that the Council’s existing on-line Procurement Guidance be updated to encompass the requirements of the UK Government on timber and timber products. However, should Cabinet be minded to sign up to the WWF campaign, this should ensure that the Council has taken the appropriate steps to meet the Bronze level of pledge.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

17.        Although legal and sustainable sourcing should be a pre-requisite of any timber purchased by the Council, be it directly or indirectly, competitive pricing should still be obtained (as demonstrated by the current WPC contract).

18.        WWF have reported that recent calculations indicate that deforestation and forest degradation are responsible for around 15% of greenhouse gas emissions and as such are a major contributor to climate change.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

19.        None as a direct result of this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

20.        None as a direct result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

21.        When carrying out their procurement functions, public sector organisations are expected to show demonstrable respect for equality and human rights.

Corporate/Service Objectives

22.        The purchase of legal and sustainable timber and wood products supports the Council’s Procurement Strategy of enshrining an ethical standard into its procurement processes.  It also follows the Council’s Procurement Guidance of considering environmental factors when making purchasing decisions.

Policy Framework and Budget

23.        This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

24.        None

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

25.        Corporate Resources

Background Papers

Council Procurement Policy, Strategy and Guidance

CPET Workshop Training Handbook.

 

Contact Officer

Alan Jenkins, Head of Accountancy & Resource Management

 

Officers Consulted

Sustainable Development Working Group

 

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies - Director of Finance, ICT & Property

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