Following the refurbishment of its cutting edge plywood facility, Carter Holt Harvey  is again highlighting the importance of using materials that comply with Australian standards and chain of custody certification systems.

This comes after recent serious allegations have been made on companies that imported plywood allegedly produced from illegally-harvested forests in Asia.  

General manger of the Engineered Wood Products Association of Australasia (EWPAA), Simon Dorries, said: “Of concern is the evidence that some Asian traders are under scrutiny for their pricing polices on the Australian market which target Australian jobs through product dumping at prices below the cost of production for local producers.”  

“Product misrepresentation is taking place on a massive scale and product failure reports in both New Zealand and Australia are cause for serious concern. I believe it is the responsibility of governments to have effective regulations which prohibit the use of dangerous or illegal materials,” Mr Dorries said.  

He referred to a recent test of LVL scaffold planks imported from Asia where 10 samples failed standards for bonding strength.  

According to Mr Dorries, ‘non-effective policing’ is one of the biggest problems facing the engineered wood products industry: “The Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Australian Building Code require the use of specific plywood for specific applications, but there is no policing of the Australian Standard,” he said.  

However, the EWPAA and its members have been long-time advocates of honest branding of products, and are set to expand their boundaries as a high profile and respected industry organisation and product-testing facility.  

A new timber testing and laboratory facility has been opened in Queensland, featuring a Japanese Shimadzu 100 kN testing instrument which will used primarily to assemble ‘fitness for use’ criteria, including modulus of elasticity (MoE) and bending, compression and bearing strengths of timber, as well as for formaldehyde emissions and bond quality. 

"Our priorities in developing and strengthening markets include on-going measures to ensure all products comply with standards. We accept that imported plywood is a reality, but we must have a level playing field and they must comply with Australasian Standards. Effectual branding and structural safety are essential.” 

"As a watchdog on building materials entering the market, the EWPAA will come down very hard on those who try to cheat the system and bring in non-compliant and unsafe products through the back door,” Mr Dorries said. 

EWPAA’s laboratories in Brisbane and on the Gold Coast are accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA). Samples from member Plywood and LVL mills are tested daily with other properties tested on a monthly basis.

Plywood, LVL and wood panels form a $500 million industry and support more than 5,000 jobs on both sides of the Tasman, so engineered wood producers are continuing to invest in the future. Carter Holt Harvey's plywood mill at Myrtleford, Victoria, is an example where the company has transformed the existing 25-year-old sawmill into a state-of-the-art plywood facility.

"Through product innovation, consistent quality and the strictest adherence to Australasian building codes and compliance, the engineered wood products industry is committed to a 'buy home-grown' business belief that supports job protection and creation – vital in these times of economic uncertainty,” said Mr Dorries.