The successful Timber Preservers Association of Australia’s workshop in Brisbane at the end of August progressed five issues that face the wood protection industry in Australia – quality, waste, testing, standards and risks to the industry.
The workshop determined the need for a ‘quality mark’ and decided that TPAA work with other organisations to progress this initiative.
Twenty-six invited attendees across the industry discussed industry priorities in teams of five or six.
The workshop was facilitated by Peter Webb from Independent Verification Services, and there were note-takers in each team who reported back at the end of each topic session, as well as submitting their notes for collation and reporting back to the TPAA board.
The collated notes have been sent to workshop participants for verification, and participants will prioritise issues for consideration by the TPAA board.
Recommendations included that TPAA work on a voluntary risk-rated quality scheme, for example, testing landscape preserved timbers compared to structural products. There was also a suggestion that brands be allocated to importers rather than the originating plant overseas.
A major outcome of discussions on waste was that the industry and policymakers need to change the language from referring to the material as ‘waste’ to thinking about it as a ‘resource’.
In the modern social media and fake news world, preservative-treated timber classified as hazardous waste can potentially impact the industry seriously.
A little-known statistic is that around 70% of preserved product produced in Australia is treated to H2F (framing protected against termites) with organic active ingredients. As such, sawdust and off-cuts, if not repurposed, can be broken down through biological action (composting) or used as biomass fuel with little to no toxic gasses emitted.
The session on testing was vigorous and highlighted that TPAA has a role to play in removing or reducing ambiguity.
Methods for determining preservative penetration were discussed, as was using an alternate test or analytical zone.
During the session on testing, the impact of species, retention gradients, sapwood/heartwood and resin content was raised. The point was made that a major project is under way to examine these concerns.
Pine from all over Australia is being impregnated with copper, chrome arsenic (water borne) and tebuconazole/propiconazole (LOSP) preservative, and the results are being analysed to determine their impact on penetration.
Preservation standards need to be responsive to industry needs. Developing alternate pathways of standardisation was suggested.
Finally, managing the risks of product performance, resource (waste) management and chain of custody were reviewed, with possible ways forward identified.
The workshop results will be further reviewed by the TPAA board at its next meeting, where a decision on where to apply resources will be determined.
The contribution of all involved in the workshop is gratefully acknowledged