20 August 2008 | Jake Kanter
The public sector has a disjointed approach to timber procurement policies, a report has found.
The study, carried out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' Central Point of Expertise on Timber Procurement (CPET), found "some variability" in implementing and maintaining timber purchasing policies between 14 central government departments.
Although nine of the departments had timber purchasing standards in place, five had no clear policy. And of those that did, only four were directly aligned with specific sourcing regulations set out by CPET in 2004. Some departments, including the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Transport, went beyond the guidance by only purchasing sustainable timber. But CPET said this could create confusion among vendors.
Over half did not collect data on timber purchases, giving no evidence of their compliance with regulations. Of the five that did, the accuracy and scope of what they reported was judged as "variable and not always clear".
The report recommended senior buyers increase awareness of timber procurement policies among staff and improve communication with suppliers to ensure consistency between departments. It added methods of reporting on purchases should be clearly drawn up and written into contracts.
John White, chief executive of the Timber Trade Federation, told supplymanagement.com: "Buyers should ask one very simple question of a supplier, which is 'where does your wood come from?' If the supplier doesn't know, then the conversation must stop."
Last week CPET unveiled new timber purchasing rules that will require public sector buyers to buy independently verified, legal and sustainable timber from 1 April 2009 (Web news, 11 August 2008).