Our halls at TTJ may not be decked with boughs of holly (it’s a health and safety issue apparently), but our desks certainly are bowing under the weight of Christmas cards – for which thanks very much one and all! The cards themselves came in all shapes, sizes and designs, from restrained traditional, to eye-strain glittery and I’m not about to pick out a favourite, but one which caused particular office merriment was from lift truck maker Combilift. Well, what did you think Santa used to load his sleigh with?

And at the risk of sounding a tad hard-nosed and Scrooge-like, amidst all the seasonal greetings and good wishes for the New Year, you can also pick out a heartening message for the trade. It’s generally printed on the back of the cards, or tucked just inside and it’s the fact that they’re made from recycled paper. It’s probably not the first consideration on the purchaser’s mind when they make their choice. But the manufacturers clearly believe it is lurking in their buying consciousness somewhere, otherwise they wouldn’t bother.

The double good news for the timber sector is that not only are the vast majority of its actual products recyclable and reusable – so are its co-products. These days you cannot use the word waste in connection with wood, and quite right too. As our co-products feature highlights (p18), virtually no residues from wood and wood based material processing cannot be given a new lease of life in some form.

Of course, the co-products market is not without its problems. There are fears that the ‘wall of wood’ set to come out of UK, and particularly Scottish forests, in the years ahead may produce a mountain of off-cuts, brash and thinnings that will undermine the already competitive by-products business. There are also concerns that new large-scale applications for by-products may not emerge rapidly enough, leaving the sector no alternative in the interim but to go for the increasingly costly landfill option. But as our articles show, the science and technology behind by-product re-use are making major strides, benefiting even companies generating relatively small volumes. Long term it should prove one more positive environmental tale for the timber trade to tell.