Kingfisher’s operating company, B&Q UK, is the first major UK retailer to achieve its goal of only buying timber products from proven responsible sources. Last year just over 90 per cent of B&Q’s timber products were traceable to responsible sources and from February, the UK’s largest home improvement retailer can ensure that 100 per cent of timber products that it buys, can be traced back to well managed sources. As the first major UK retailer to achieve this target, the pressure will now be on for others to follow suit.
Kingfisher is committed to building on this achievement by driving forward sustainable timber sourcing across the Group. In 2009/10, 77% of timber volume sold across Kingfisher’s international businesses was from proven well managed forests or recycled sources – ahead of the Group target of 75%.
B&Q started its sustainable timber campaign nearly twenty years ago when it was challenged on the sourcing of its wood. The journey to fully traceable wood products involved it becoming a founding partner of the FSC in the early 1990s – when there was no agreement on what well-managed forests meant. FSC is widely regarded as one of the most important initiatives in recent times to promote responsible forest management worldwide. B&Q has consistently improved its timber credentials and was proud to have been awarded one of the largest chains of custody certifications under both the FSC and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) schemes in the world. B&Q also works with organisations like The Forest Trust to help producers achieve FSC certification. When surveyed 92 per cent of customers said that they would choose responsibly sourced wood every time if they knew there was no extra cost and that is what B&Q has delivered.
From garden furniture to kitchens, over 16,000 products at B&Q contain wood. All timber derived products are from proven responsible sources including those obviously made from trees like sawn timber, wallpaper, flooring, doors to those where the wood is hidden like mirror backs, garden tools and even baths.
In order to raise customer awareness of the importance of sustainable timber, the company has developed a Forest Friendly campaign. This aims to highlight the importance for people to check the sustainability credentials of timber before they buy, to help preserve endangered species and habitats and to ensure local communities are prosperous and protected. It is vital for biodiversity that forests are made commercially viable and for local communities as this means that those communities will protect their forests for future generations. If forests are not commercially viable, local people will be tempted to clear them to make way for other businesses that do deliver a profit like cattle ranching or palm oil production.
The criteria for Forest Friendly forestry relies on credible forest certification schemes to set strict standards to ensure that trees are only taken from a forest at a rate that it can replenish. For example, in the case of B&Q’s tropical plywood, just six trees from an area the size of three football pitches are felled. This area is then left to regenerate naturally for 20 years.
Matt Sexton, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at B&Q says;
‘Today is a milestone for B&Q as we show our support for responsibly managed forests. We’ve been working very hard to close the gap and hope that other retailers will follow as we lead the way in sustainability. Our Forest Friendly campaign continues to raise awareness of the need for consumers to demand that their timber products come from well managed sources and now our customers can shop safe in the knowledge that B&Q only buys products that conform to this. Each of our 330 stores are covered by our own FSC and PEFC chain of custody certification and customers can see on their receipts which products are certified under which scheme as well as looking at the label on the timber product.’
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