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Irish Rail using Unsustainable Chinese Plywood

13th August 2010

Published by the Irish Times

While walking through Huston Station recently I was dismayed to discover Irish Rail is using cheap throw-away Chinese plywood in the hoarding of a construction job taking place there.

At a time when the retention and creation of Irish jobs is on everyone’s lips it is unacceptable that any Irish company should not give preference to Irish-made goods. Ireland has 4 integrated panel board mills making sheet materials from Irish-grown wood which is most suitable for the purpose. This will help in retaining Irish jobs at this critical time for so many who are out of work.

Plywood samples taken by me from other construction sites were tested in Hamburg University and the results revealed that the species used in the cladding included bintangor and nyatoh (pencil cedar). Both these species are found in paradise forests of south East Asia, and often used in the manufacture of Chinese plywood- an issue which has been highlighted in recent years, as these species are often logged illegally and unsustainably.
For instance the vast majority of bintangor comes from Papua New Guinea (PNG) where illegal and destructive logging is rampant. Logging companies in the area have been accused of widespread illegality including human rights abuses. Much of this bintangor is shipped to China where it is used in the manufacturer of cheap throw away plywood-such as the hoarding seen on numerous building sites around Ireland.
“The use of such plywood in this case, is also responsible for layoffs in the Irish Panelboard Industry,” according to Mr Neil Foot, Managing Director of Waterford-based SmartPly Europe.

Just Forests would be delighted to work with Irish Rail in the development of a ‘responsible timber policy’ to ensure this sort of thing does not happen again.

For more on this matter please visit our website at www.justforests.org

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