Recycled wood, an important resource for the supply chain and the country

The situation for companies is not the best. The use of recycled wood has long been a winning solution, but it suffers from price increases and lack of availability.

At the beginning of the year, it was hoped to return to a more favorable situation with falling prices. Instead, after the pandemic came the crisis in Ukraine and the war, which exacerbated the scenario. Commodities are rising steadily and sharply, speculation is palpable, and timber coming from countries directly or indirectly affected by the conflict is arriving late or coming too late, but at very different prices from a few months ago. Because? What happens in the supply chain?

The statements of the President of FederlegnoArredo they talk about a worrying situation, impossible not to consider. A political and economic context that further down the chain leads to increasingly difficult supplies with the risk of speculation and price increases. “We are convinced,” the president remarked Claudio Feltrin – that this is the right time, and can no longer be postponed, to become more autonomous by immediately implementing the necessary measures to achieve the objectives set out in the national forest strategy based on environmentally sound management, on the development of the Italian supply chain forest and our sawmills. Let us make sure that this terrible human and economic tragedy at least provides input to do what has been postponed for too long. We are running out of raw materials, which puts our sector and its competitiveness at risk, to the full advantage of e.g. China and Turkey. Let’s not let wood ‘become the new gas’. Manufacturers of panels, packaging, roofs, doors, parquet, windows and other furniture that use wood are involved in a dangerous domino effect. As a federation – Feltrin emphasizes – we work on several institutional tables, both Italian and European, precisely in this sense and to support our companies, some of which are already stopping production because they are uneconomical or because they lack enough raw materials to escape the orders. To date, thanks to our pressure, supported by evidence, in Ukraine, timber companies are at least among those who, by resorting to social safety nets, are exempt from paying the additional contribution. Not only that, in order to gain access to the common redundancies, in addition to the lack of work or orders and the market crisis, even the ‘lack of raw materials or components’ has become a requirement for access. That is certainly not the solution, but it is still a result. Now we must first of all concentrate on supporting the most affected companies by identifying appropriate tools for transformation and consolidation or ‘countries’ in some markets that were previously considered secondary. The export data confirm that Europe is still the most important basin for wooden furniture, and we must absolutely defend this priority, try to consolidate more and more also in the US and keep an eye on the Chinese giant, which has registered a + 9.4% in 2019, but which at the same time can become a formidable competitor that is able to purchase raw materials at prices that are unreasonable for us ”.

The position of the national consortium dealing with the collection, recycling and recycling of wood packaging is clear: The wood sector is experiencing a critical moment with many complexities to deal with because the context is critical, but this does not have a direct impact on the quantities of wood available. We can not talk about the lack of wood in terms of the physical availability of the material, we can talk about changes in the cost and energies to achieve it.
“The big timber importers – the president declares Rilegno Nicola Semeraro – they confirm that they regularly withdraw raw materials from abroad. What has changed is the price of the material. Wood is there if you pay for it with continuous exponential increases. There is speculation from the countries from which Italy imports material, this can not be hidden. Our country imports 90% of the raw materials from abroad, not because there is no wood in the Italian forests, but because there is no strategy and proper forestry.
There are several critical issues when we talk about wood today: issues related to logistics and issues related to energy that affect the cost of the material. These questions are concrete, but are also used for speculative policies. “So far, we have talked about wood raw material used in the manufacture of packaging.
In 2021, 3,400,000 tons of wood were used to make packaging, a record number in the last ten years. It is an incredible amount that demonstrates that the market is active and that there is wood, certainly what changes are the prices of raw materials, energy, even nails. Every increase and every speculation has consequences not only for the companies, but above all for the final consumer.
Then there is the basic theme of Rilegno about recycled and recycled wood, a great resource for the country for 25 years: “Since Rilegno was born, there has been a steady growth in tons of recycled and recycled wood. In 2021, Rilegno began recycling two million tons, the highest amount ever in recent years.We are in a general situation with great movement – continues Semeraro – where we need a strong vision and ability to collaborate between companies from across the wood system on common strategies.
We emphasize how virtuous and real the national system of circular economy of wood is: Our wood is collected throughout Italy, thanks to 400 platforms connected to Rilegno, and taken to recycling facilities, where it is mostly converted into chipboard, which is then useful for the production of mobile.
A concrete example: a fruit box produced in Sicily, when its life cycle ends, is then collected and recycled thanks to our consortium, which transforms itself into a new product like a wardrobe door.
A producer of fruit boxes in southern Italy and a producer of furniture in Brianza are seemingly distant worlds, but connected by the same circular economy of wood.
It is by creating a system that we find the new resources that the planet needs today to cope with the climate crisis. The true circular economy is systemic, it cannot be done alone, as Semeraro points out: “the Rilegno consortium is at the service of businesses and the country, and it has been working in this sense for years”.

Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in between, as they say, because according to the companies, the availability of wood has actually changed compared to previous years. “The recycled raw material that we can use – he comments Alessandro Saviolapresident Saviola, recycled wood transformer based on the recycling and upcycling process – it is not very high. Our environmentally friendly panels, made from 100% recycled wood, are used by hundreds of furniture manufacturers in over 60 countries. The wood that exists today barely meets the current need. It is impossible to believe that this important resource will be destined for combustion, a possible solution to try to become less dependent on Russian gas for example: if it happened, we would go to an emergency, with a negative impact also on the furniture supply link. A lower production of panels leads to difficulties in responding to market demand with a consequent increase in costs and prices for the final consumer. A chain reaction that must be avoided, given the difficulties that already exist. “We are able to guarantee orders because, in addition to the raw materials currently available, we have worked in advance with inventories that took place in previous periods.” One possible solution could be to move to another material, which is already happening in the company. “We do not use new wood – explains Saviola – but recycled wood, which we give a new life. An additional solution would be to use chipboard instead of new wood, but to achieve this you still need the availability of recycled wood, to return to the issue and the difficulties already mentioned “.

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