The plywood trade is stepping up its efforts to tackle the issue of product mislabelling in a new initiative which will encourage Timber Trade Federation (TTF) members to submit photographic examples of inappropriate or fraudulent marking practices.

The decision to form an online group to examine and promote best practice was taken by the TTF’s National Panels Products Division (NPPD) on February 23, when members engaged in heated discussion on the mislabelling issue.

Common mislabelling issues include detailing of the correct timber species used in the plywood and the legitimacy of environmental certification and use of the product for structural applications.

NPPD chairman Bob Harvey said the new committee would seek to gain further insight into the marking issue.

“The consumer has to be more aware of what they should look for. Education is what’s needed, you have to ask for documentary proof when you buy something.”

Mr Harvey said the issue could be tackled, but the large amount of plywood used in this country did not make it easy.

“The increasing diversity of plywood supplies over the last five years had made the issue more complex,” he said.

UCM Timber Specialties’ Mike Cater suggested a new penalty system could act as a deterrent.

“There’s an element of cheating going on, not just with the marking of grades but also from the duty point of view. It’s very difficult to find a solution as to how to stop it.” he said.

“It’s really now a time for everyone, whether you are federation members or not, to take responsible action, in the same way the trade has been forced to do with environmental issues.”

TTF chief executive John White said The Federation had become increasingly tougher on the issue and had actively investigated allegations of malpractice. He promised a tightening up of the TTF code of conduct in June.