Environment And Sustainability

Renewables Energy

Environment and sustainability

As one of the largest producers of panel products in Europe, we have a responsibility to be at the forefront of initiatives that tackle today's environmental challenge. That's why, as the environmental impact of deforestation became clear, we led the UK industry towards FSC® certification. What's more, our European operations were amongst the first in the world to produce FSC-certified panel boards.


What the FSC® stands for

The FSC product label allows consumers worldwide to recognise products that support the growth of responsible forest management. As the marketplace becomes increasingly environmentally aware, many demand the FSC mark on their wood products. With Norbord it comes as standard on a large proportion of our products.

Sustainable forestry

Norbord is dedicated to producing board from sustainable sources of wood only. All of the wood we use comes from responsibly managed forests, or from recycled material. What’s more, the majority of our European manufactured products are from forests certified to Forest Stewardship Council standards. By insisting on FSC-certified sources, we help protect the world’s ancient forests.

Norbord is also a member of the Timber Trade Federation and implements the Responsible Purchasing Policy as a commitment to the eradication of illegal timber in European markets.


How sustainable forestry benefits the environment

Young, fast-growing trees are the lungs of the world, breathing in carbon dioxide and exhaling oxygen. By replanting trees, sustainable forestry ensures that more oxygen-emitting woodlands are created every year.

The threat to our environment, economy and industry that is expensive for us all. 

The background

Wood is a valuable resource, which, unlike other sources of renewable energy, is limited due to available land area and the length of the growing cycle. In the UK, current sustainable harvest is fully utilised by Norbord and other manufacturers through a lifecycle of Grow / Use / Re-use / Recycle – and then, and only then, Recover for energy.

This responsible and environmentally efficient lifecycle ensures carbon is stored for many years before being released back into the atmosphere when it is finally burned to produce energy.

As part of its commitment to a low carbon economy, the Government has introduced subsidies to electricity generators under the Renewables Obligation (RO). These subsidies incentivise the burning of wood for electricity-only generation, at efficiency levels of less than 30%.

The issue

The wood panel industry relies entirely on UK wood (virgin and recovered), which is now under huge pressure from the large-scale biomass energy sector. In simple terms, our industry is under threat because the Government subsidies allow the energy generators to pay more than double the price currently paid by the UK wood panel industry for its primary raw material. As a result, this has driven up average wood prices by 60% in the last five years.

And the problem looks set to grow. There has been a huge increase in the number of planning applications for biomass power stations that generate electricity by burning wood. These plants have the capacity to consume many times the entire UK’s timber harvest.

The impact

The threat to the wood panel industry is clear, however the current legislation has wider reaching consequences too:

  • The environmental impact – the inefficient burning of wood will in fact generate a net increase in UK CO2 emissions, to the order of hundreds of millions of tonnes.
  • The loss of the wood panel industry would cost tens of thousands of jobs, many of them in manufacturing, across the UK, damaging already fragile economies.
  • UK bill-payers, already struggling with rising costs for household energy, are actually paying £810 million a year for these so-called ‘green’ subsidies through hidden charges in their bills.
  • Consumers will experience significant price increases on wood panel products and other manufactured items, driven by the rising cost of raw materials.
  • Large negative impact on the UK’s balance of trade, as we would need to import wood from overseas to meet demand.
  • Distortion of the ‘Hierarchy of Use’ for wood, to which the UK Government is committed.

What’s being done?

The Wood Panel Industries Federation’s Make Wood Work is backed by Norbord and the other UK panel producers, and supported by other forest product industry organisations.  It is a national campaign aimed at persuading the Government to encourage the best possible use of this valuable and limited material.

Working with leading organisations within the building trade, we are lobbying the government to review current and proposed legislation.  Our aims are to persuade Government to:

  1. Respect the obligated “Hierarchy of Use” in the framing of legislation in respect of timber as a renewable source.
  2. Review the RO and RHI incentives with respect to their distortion of this Hierarchy.
  3. Incentivise the use of wood for energy only after its full lifecycle use, for carbon storage.
  4. Better integrate the process across disparate Government Departments.
  5. Commit to, and deliver on, an expansion of productive woodlands.
  6. Engage fully with the wood processing industry as represented by the Wood Panel Industries Federation (WPIF) and Confor (Confederation of Forest Industries).

How can you help?

The Biomass Issue has consequences for the UK economy, our environment and for the tens of thousands of UK workers whose jobs are at risk as a result of this legislation.

Please support our campaign by signing the petition, we would also be delighted, should you wish to send a letter concerning this matter to your MP.


Click on the links below to find out more or to sign up to the petition

Sign the petition at 38 Degrees - Stop Burning Our Forests

Learn more on how Norbord supports wood related issues at Better By Nature

For national campaign information visit Make Wood Work

To find out more about why Norbord is Better by Nature click here.


Let's Use Wood Wisely

Click here to find out what our wood wise owl has to say on the issue.