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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources): 11 October 2011

 

Report of the Director of Finance, ICT and Property

 

Purchase of Timber and Wood Products

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To provide 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) pledge scheme to stop the trade in illegal and unsustainable timber and improve the way wood products are bought. 

Recommendation

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

Reason for the Recommendation

To advise Committee of the current process within the Council for ensuring that procurement of timber and wood products and the details of the WWF pledge scheme.

 

Background

2.             This report responds to Councillor Curtis’s request for consideration.

3.             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, timber for construction, plywood or doors.

4.             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.

5.             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. 

Relevant Issues and Options

6.             The Council has a controllable annual spend in excess of £80 million on goods, services and works which can have an impact on the environment in one form or another. As such, it is committed to furthering sustainable development through its procurement processes and in particular, the procurement activities with its contractors and suppliers.

7.             Within its Procurement Policy and Strategy and as supported in the detailed Procurement Guidance document, the Council has stated that it will work to meet its 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. This has been further endorsed through its incorporation into the approved Project Management Methodology and via a Sustainability Checklist for schemes.

8.             The Council currently purchases timber products into its Stores at the Alps Depot via a Welsh Purchasing Consortium (WPC) collaborative framework. The supplier of these products is Monmouthshire Timber Supplies Limited (MTS). As part of their successful inclusion on the framework, MTS were able to prove that they only purchase from certified and legally sourced mills.

9.             MTS are PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest) and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified and are audited every year by the Timber and Research Development Association (TRADA) to ensure their timber is from sustainable sources. The WPC ensures sustainable criteria are consistently evaluated, and so procurement of timber via this framework in the future should ensure continuance compliance.

10.        Similar arrangements apply to wood products (paper etc.) which are sourced via corporate contracts facilitated through the WPC, Value Wales and the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) Buying Solutions. The benefits of using the Value Wales framework for our corporate supply of copier paper include:-

                   recycled paper options

                   peace of mind that all paper comes from legal and sustainable forests

                   sustainable procurement built into the specification.

11.        All purchases, however large or small, can have an impact on the environment.  Building sustainability and environmental criteria into specifications and working with Council suppliers and contractors to help them meet our requirements is an essential element of good procurement. All staff with purchasing / commissioning responsibilities also have an important role to play.

12.        Sustainability and environmental criteria are, therefore, built into the specifications for timber and wood products procured direct as part of individual projects. These are conducted mainly by the Construction, Highways and Property Sections. Examples of this are the recent projects at Cowbridge Comprehensive School and Cadoxton House where the National Building Specification (NBS) used drew from model clauses supplied by TRADA.

13.        Signing up to the WWF pledges involves the following key commitments:

Bronze Pledge

                   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.

 

Silver Pledge

                   We will not buy any timber or paper where we don’t know the source of the wood;

                   We will choose projects, contracts and / or product groups where recycled, certified or sustainable and legal timber products will be used.

 

Gold Pledge

                   We will ensure that we only buy recycled, certified or sustainable and legal timber products across all our departments;

                   We will set up a recording and monitoring system to ensure forest products we procure meet the requirements of our policy

14.        The implications of the different pledges were considered by the Council’s Sustainable Development Working Group on 9th September 2011. The Group felt that the Council’s current’s approach to timber procurement was compatible with the aims of WWF and a pledge at Bronze level would be consistent with work already being undertaken in the Council. However, they were also of the opinion that to pledge for the 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.

The Group, therefore, agreed to recommend that the Council makes the WWF Bronze pledge. As at the time of writing, Cardiff Council is the only other Welsh Unitary Authority that has signed up to the WWF pledge, also at Bronze level.

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

15.        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).

16.        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.

17.        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)

18.        None as a direct result of this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

19.        None  as a direct result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

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

Corporate/Service Objectives

21.        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

22.        This is a matter for consideration by Scrutiny Committee.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

23.        None.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

24.        Corporate Resources.

Background Papers

Council Procurement Policy, Strategy and Guidance.

 

Contact Officer

Alan Jenkins, Head of Accountancy and Resource Management

 

Officers Consulted

Sustainable Development Working Group

 

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies, Director of Finance, ICT and Property