Mr Stillwell              DEF0002

Written evidence submitted by Mr Stillwell, Storm Board LLP


Sustainable timber and deforestation


There is a distinct lack of vision and will in the timber and construction industries, to look at sustainable alternatives to timber in many applications, with the specific example of plywood.


Sustainable Timber


There are claims that the equivalent of 1 football pitch of forest is lost every 6 seconds around the world. There are also many claims about sustainable forestry from responsible sources, from the likes of FSC. However, if you look at it the maths of what is being cut down, over how long trees take to grow to maturity, then “sustainable forestry” does not work out. I have contacted FSC and asked them to supply their mathematical methodology, but they have declined to respond. The undisputed fact is that there is less mature forest to farm around the globe each year, and until this trend is reversed timber will remain a precious resource that is not being sustained.


According to the Forestry Commission statistics 2006, 45% of plywood was imported from Brazil and China.


UK timber market


Forestry Commission Statistics 2006



Description automatically generatedAs the UK has no plywood production, by 2005 the UK was importing 1,417,000m3, this is the equivalent of about 25 million ¾ inch/19mm thick sheets of plywood in 2005. Even softwood ply carries 698kg of CO2/m3, which would mean the UK is importing 989,066 tonnes of carbon per year on these figures.























Plywood production uses about 60% of a tree for the product and includes glues/ phenol resins and fillers. This makes disposal of plywood difficult.

Why use a precious resource, when there is an abundant problematic resource which could be used?


The majority of plywood in construction is used in single use, temporary works, such as hoarding/ fencing around construction sites or for formwork. The boards tend to last 2 years before being replaced or disposed of.























However, the world has produced 8500 million tonnes of plastic, of which only 9% has been recycled. The UK contributes to 2 million tonnes per year to this number. The recycling figures in the UK are said to be around 48% sadly these are misleading figures as they are based on collection not re-manufacturing and include incineration and export. However, what does remain is a huge and costly resource that could be used to produce plywood or timber alternatives.


Storm Board, a UK invention, is an alternative to plywood made from 100% plastic waste. The production process uses the so called unrecyclable plastic materials like multi-layer film and contaminated plastics.


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The result is a 100% recycled plastic board, that does not rot, is reusable and 100% recyclable after use.


Therefore, if the demand for global timber is going to quadruple by 2050, and we have a problem with waste plastics, why are we not solving both problems by using waste plastic to produce timber alternatives?


Disruptive technologies


The technology, processes and factories already exist to turn waste plastic into sheets, boards, posts and other products in the UK. However, neither the timber industry nor the construction industry wants to adopt new ways; the timber industry sees plastic products as competition and the construction industry does not want to change its way of doing things.


Let us take HS2 as an example. It’s an extensive infra-structure project which would require 28,000 tonnes of hoarding if the whole line was to be fenced. There is an innovation and sustainability department, which proposed new products like Storm Board to the large construction conglomerates for the hoarding around Euston Station. The construction companies listened carefully, and then cut down a small forest, transported it halfway round the world to erect 7 miles of plywood hoarding around Euston. This is the disappointing attitude of the construction industry to new products. Unless the customer insists on a sustainable board, they will not change.


In an independent LCA(in full), the waste plastic board had 60 times lower environmental impact than the plywood board, but this is of zero interest to construction companies or the timber industry.


1 Tree offsets up to 15kgs of carbon per year. Upcycling 1 tonne of plastic waste will save about 187 trees. To offset 1 million kg of carbon you need 70,000 trees.


Brands and innovators


Brands such as M&S, ASDA-George, Lush, Body Shop, McDonalds, Sainsburys, Glastonbury Festival and many others have used Storm Board to replace composite timber. The term circular economy is frequently banded around; but these companies have truly shown that this is a true possibility. By providing their waste plastic to make boards this has reduced their carbon footprint, prevented hard to recycle waste to divert from landfill/ incineration and a precious resource has been saved to grow another day.


Change in Attitude


Unless there is a change in attitude to adopting alternative products, there will be a shortage of timber around the world, as there is higher demand and less timber every year. Starting by replacing some of the non-essential products with alternative materials made from waste, helps on all fronts. It creates the circular economy, with local waste creating local jobs, reducing environmental impact, reliance on timber and deals with the problem of unrecyclable plastics.


The construction industry will only pay lip service to Net Zero and Sustainability, with their sustainability policy written the box is ticked but it has no meaning unless they are forced to implement changes. The UK can continue to contribute to world deforestation, or it can be innovative and use its own resources to solve the problem.


Wood where wood is needed, absolutely! But where waste can be used as an alternative and does a better job in all weathers, why continue to chop down trees?


1 Tree offsets up to 15kgs of carbon per year. Upcycling 1 tonne of plastic waste will save about 187 trees. To offset 1 million kg of carbon you need 70,000 trees.


Links: There is a short video on processing mixed waste plastics into timber alternatives here:
Storm Board website:


Using waste instead of wood


Waste plastic has a lot of advantages over wood in certain areas:



Where plastic waste can replace wood, (and do a better job):


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 A wooden fence in a wooded area

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