North American composite panel shipments are projected to rise about 6 percent in 2013, following a nearly 1.5 percent increase in 2012, according to information from the Composite Panel Assn. Production capacity is expected to stay steady.
“This overall growth paralleled the modest recovery in U.S. housing starts, remodeling expenditures and consumer purchasing,” said Tom Julia, president of the CPA.
Different challenges face the hardwood plywood veneer industry, which not only is dependent on markets in Europe, but faces harsher competition from low-cost imports, said Kip Howlett, president of the Hardwood Plywood & Veneer Assn.
“The continuing flood of cheap imports from China has eroded the U.S. producers’ share of the domestic market,” he said. “U.S. producers continue to idle 60 percent of their production capacity, which has been a steady pattern, unfortunately.
“Adding a double whammy is the Canadian producer’s share of the U.S. market has lost ground to these Chinese imports as well, which adversely impacts the U.S. log, veneer, and platform producers who supply a dwindling Canadian market. Chinese imports are also impacting the domestic Canadian market as well,” Howlett added.
Recent antidumping determinations by the U.S. International Trade Commission regarding engineered flooring and thin hardwood plywood veneer should help “level this playing field,” he added.
On the legislative front, the release of the Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products Act should help level the playing field for both groups. As well, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will be releasing its long-awaited amendments to its 2008 Airborne Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) for Composite Wood Products. “CPA has been an interested stakeholder throughout this process and we’re working with both agencies to advance our commitment to fair and consistent environmental regulation along with fair trade,” Julia said.
Also of importance to both groups are EPA’s MACT standards for boilers and regulations affecting the use — and definition — of biomass. “The composite panel industry and its allied Wood Fiber Coalition will continue to advocate for a definition of biomass that protects the raw material base needed for higher value products. Free market access to this raw material should never be jeopardized by governmental mandates and/or subsidies that would divert it for use as fuel,” Julia added.
“Engineered hardwood products maximize the yield from hardwood logs, reducing the demand to consume more trees,” said Howlett, making them an ideal sustainable product.
The CPA also promotes the sustainability of composite panels. Its Eco-Certified Composite (ECC) Standard and Sustainability Program is for manufacturers of composite panels, wood components and finished products. “The North American composite panel industry has been a leader in environmental stewardship and we’re advancing that position with ECC,” Julia added.
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