From Russia With Love: LVL Surge Risks Aussie Building Products

New EWPAA report flags concerns over non-conforming timber products.

Wed 01 May 24


The risk of non-conforming building products entering Australia is increasing like a rising tide, fuelled by shipments of laminated veneer lumber entering ports from Europe, Russia and faraway China.

And with the push to use more timber in commercial, multi-use and residential buildings, the country’s peak body for engineered wood products, the EWPAA is pushing builders, retailers and consumers “to ask questions, practice due diligence,” and most importantly, “commit to using only conforming and fit-for-purpose products.”

That is according to Gavin Matthew, the CEO of the EWPAA, who spoke about the newly published Non-Conforming Timber Products Update 2024, who said that the vast majority of industry players are doing the right thing; the industry is concerned with non-compliant timber entering supply chains that do not meet the National Construction Code (NCC).

“It is widely acknowledged that imported timber products are necessary for a significant number of building applications and to meet market demand,” Mr Matthew said, and “yet we consistently find that some products do not conform or meet Australian standards or demonstrate the required evidence of suitability.”

“Products that are incorrectly labelled or not fit-for-purpose are entering the supply chain, which is concerning as non-conforming products represent significant safety risks for builders, consumers, and the industry as a whole.”

Laminated Veneer Lumber, or LVL, is an engineered wood product commonly used in the Australian construction industry. With a high strength-to-weight ratio, LVL can handle significant loads and is often used instead of steel. Footage courtesy of @WoodSolutionsAustralia.

According to Mr Matthew, “Australian EWP manufacturers have a reputation for producing high-quality, reliable, and durable building supplies,” stressing that all buildings must meet the National Construction Code’s slated performance requirements, achieved “by following deemed-to-satisfy solutions, a performance solution, or a combination of both.”

“Most residential and commercial buildings utilise the NCC deemed-to-satisfy compliance pathways by conforming to recognised product and design standards,” adding that “the best protection for your business is to use due diligence to ensure your products conform with Australian standards and codes.”

The report identifies steps to identify conforming LVL. (Image Credit: EWPAA)

The report stresses that a reputable production certification mark, like EWPAA’s product stamp, “is a good way to have confidence that the manufacturing facility, the product, and associated claims have been inspected, audited, tested, and reviewed against the product standards by independent experts.”

In 2022, the publisher of Wood Central exclusively revealed that record shipments of Russian LVL were entering Australian ports via China following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Originally developed in Australia in the 1970s, LVL is primarily used for structural applications and is comparable in strength to solid timber, concrete, and steel. 

Until early 2022, timber importers relied on Russia for 40% to 50% of all LVL, formwork and beams entering the Australian building and construction supply chains. However, that changed in mid-2022 when the European Union banned Russian and Belarusian timber exports, whilst PEFC and FSC suspended certification schemes in both countries. 

And whilst Australia opted to slap a 35% tariff on Russian timber rather than following the lead of the EU and the UK in introducing a total ban, FSC and PEFC deemed that all products coming from Russia and Belarus (irrespective of secondary ports) are conflict timber, and therefore, cannot be used in PEFC and FSC claims.

According to the EWPAA, “signs of non-conforming LVL include missing branding details, questionable certification, and a lack of acceptable documentation.”


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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