Key challenges and opportunities
As world leaders in responsible timber sourcing, we now have an obligation to go beyond our efforts to source certified products and play an active part in driving the global agenda to protect our forests and the environment. We have come to realise that a responsible sourcing policy alone will not ensure sustainable and secure sources of supply for our businesses. We need to engage others and participate globally in a collaborative manner. Current population growth and deforestation rates suggest that there may not be enough forest to respond to the global demand for timber. To remain a leader we will need to do the following:
encourage close collaboration with governments, business and civil society groups to improve the global availability of responsibly sourced timber, if we are to achieve our target of 100% responsible timber sourcing
continue to work closely with forest standard-setting bodies to ensure that independent certification delivers to the expectations of an environmentally concerned public
act quickly in cases where our standards may have been infringed and highlight any suspicious timber sources before the timber reaches our stores (Find out more on B&Q's commitment to sustainable timber sourcing)
maximise on the potential of cutting-edge technology systems to improve traceability within the supply chain
commit to longer-term buying relationships in order to secure our supply of sustainably managed timber at the same time as encouraging improved forest practices and ensure that our purchasing practices and direct involvement in the supply chain will help create healthy and resilient forests
extend our responsible timber sourcing programme to cover timber and paper used in all our operations from new store developments and refurbishments to the goods we use in our offices and packaging on our products
ensure compliance across all of our operating companies with the EU Timber Regulation that will come into force in 2013
understand and manage our wider forest footprint to ensure that none of the products in our supply chain are linked to tropical deforestation. In practice, this means going beyond our timber sourcing programme to ensure that we are also sourcing responsibly other materials that may have derived from forest areas, such as palm oil and leather.
Timber is one of the most important resources for our business. In the home improvement market, many of our products contain wood fibre and we sell a high volume of timber: during 2011/12, the total volume of reported timber sold was 7.1 million m3 roundwood equivalent (RWE). This is comparable to an estimated forest area the size of Switzerland. Today, 86% of Group timber is from proven well-managed sources, which include FSC, PEFC, TFT, Rainforest Alliance and WWF GFTN (over 50% of our products are FSC certified).
Our responsibility is not only to use timber from independently verified sustainable sources but also to ensure that we help create more forest than we actually use. Over the last 20 years, Kingfisher's operating companies have supported the development and growth of independently certified forests. FSC certification was designed to sustain and enhance forest biodiversity and has been proven to help forest managers achieve healthier, more diverse, richer and more productive forests.
The majority of our operating companies are working with certification bodies to increase the availability of sustainable wood sources. We are also improving internal tools used to screen products to ensure they meet Kingfisher's procurement policies and new legislation in Europe. The requirements of the EU Timber Regulation PDF(0.99Mb) reflects our long-standing timber policy on responsible sourcing across the Group. Our 'Net Positive' aspiration goes beyond legal requirements, with an aim to create more forest than we use.
Our Net Positive impact
The Group and our operating companies will also be involved in a series of local forest projects designed to support national timber sectors and local communities and reduce carbon miles associated with imported product. We will endeavour to measure our 'forest footprint' to ensure that our impact has been Net Positive.
In 2011 our operating companies continued to make an impact in their own markets to deliver responsibly sourced timber. B&Q UK & Ireland was the first major retailer to achieve the aim of purchasing 100% of its timber products from forest sources independently verified as well managed. This continues the company's leadership and pioneering work to develop one of the first responsible timber policies in retail and its visionary role as a founding member of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in the 1990s.
Over the past year, Castorama France was recognised by WWF France as the leading supplier of sustainable timber in France and Brico Dépôt France as the leading DIY retailer for sustainably sourced timber in France. Koçtaş in Turkey is working with Rainforest Alliance on a strategic plan to improve the supply of certified timber within Turkey, while Brico Dépôt Spain won the Cemex Foundation's Sustainable Supply Chain award for its work with Kingfisher on responsible timber sourcing.
Our main aim within Net Positive is to replicate B&Q UK's achievement of reaching 100% of timber products from proven responsible sources across the Group by 2020. This will entail improvements over a period of less than eight years in our emerging markets where certified products are in less demand. Maintaining our leadership position also means looking at our longer-term impacts on the forest and sharing what we learn with other companies. Over the coming decade we will be focusing our approach on a number of key objectives:
to secure a long-term supply of sustainable timber
to empower our customers to take action against deforestation and forest degradation through well-informed purchasing decisions
to work with our operating companies in different countries to improve their proportions of proven responsibly sourced timber
to ensure greater supply-chain transparency and traceability.
B&Q UK and its timber policy
B&Q UK's commitment to responsible timber sourcing was challenged by a story in the UK's Daily Mail newspaper in early 2012, which questioned the sustainability credentials of some of its hardwood plywood. At the time, the FSC certification of a plywood product stocked by B&Q was being investigated following allegations that the manufacturer had not complied with traceability standards.
As a Group, we want to be transparent about our sustainability credentials – and also about some of the very real difficulties we face in trying to maintain the highest standards and be a leader. Find out more about the story covered in the B&Q section of our Corporate Responsibility Report