Friday Offcuts – 17 July 2009

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So, the gloves are off. For the Kiwis this week, one of the talking points has been the comparative commercial advertising that's now appearing in the media. No longer is advertising being restricted to accentuating the positives of your product. No, it's headed down the path of direct comparisons - an area where up until now advertisers have tended to stay well clear of - because of the potential for consumer backlash and being taken to the cleaners if any advertising claim is anything other than "watertight".

One of the smaller chocolate manufacturers in New Zealand has taken on the chocolate heavy weight, Cadbury. Whittaker's, have been slugging it out with some very clever timing - and clever ads - comparing their chocolate directly with the competition. It started with a Twitter voice, a website, and then a YouTube product shrinking demonstration. The Whittakers television advert that compares the two products can be seen on Youtube.

For the forest products industry, in this week's issue we have two stories relating to increasing competition to wood. The first looks at the launching of a new green architecture website aimed at promoting the advantages of using aluminium in architectural design. The second story - and the much more direct approach - reports on how the Cement & Concrete Association in NZ is going to fight a planned Government move that they say favours timber structure buildings over concrete ones. They also make a dig at the NZ Wood Campaign. Not quite the "chocolate wars" but certainly the anti in positioning building products in the marketplace is being lifted.

The question posed by one reader this week is "not whether concrete is attempting to fight back, but why it's taken them so long." Hats off to NZ Wood, the delay by competing products in attacking claims being made about the environmental credentials of using wood in construction, is more than likely related to the quality and transparency of the data that has been collected in the last few years and made publicly available as part of the NZ Wood campaign.

In the same vein, congratulations go this week also to FWPA that runs the Wood. Naturally Better" programme in Australia. Joining forces (see story below) with an organisation that has one of the top five most recognised environmental trust marks for Australian consumers is an excellent outcome for the wider promotion of wood's attributes across the Tasman.


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Concrete group fights back at wood

The Cement & Concrete Association intends to disrupt a pending NZ Government move that favours timber structure buildings over concrete ones.

The story goes back to July 2007, when the Labour-led government announced that within one year, all new government-funded buildings up to four floors high would be required to have a design option that used wood or wood-based products as the main structural material.

Delays followed. Now the scheme is that the statute be implemented before the end of this year, with a first-year assessment of its effect by February. The CCANZ position is that the policy will create a commercial advantage for one industry over another.

This, it claims, "is not only inappropriate, but is not in keeping with recent government initiatives and policy development in the building and construction sector." The organisation is sensitive on the issue of the government suggesting, as it terms it, that timber is a more sustainable option.

It says that timber has sustainable properties, and that timber is important to New Zealand's Kyoto obligations."These factors, however, do not outweigh or negate the sustainability of other building materials, such as concrete."

The cement industry's ire is also drawn by the state NZ Wood campaign, which it notes has cost NZ$2 million a year for the past three years.

Source: Carbon News 2009


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New plantations website Launched for Gen X and Y

The Australian Plantations 2020 program has launched a unique digital media initiative in conjunction with media communications company IMC - Integrated Marketing Communications and Digital Impact Productions. This breakthrough initiative presents interviews with young people enjoying careers in the plantation industry, now live on a new website www.treedudes.com.au

The site was created in response to concerns about the need to attract young people to the plantation sector. Treedudes.com.au features crisp video interviews with Gen X and Y plantation industry employees. The 'reality' style interviews confirm the real economic and environmental benefits that come with the Australian plantation sector, and they highlight the diverse and rewarding employment opportunities.

The site will undergo continuing development to keep the information fresh. Treedudes.com.au has been launched nationally to trade and regional media. For further information on the initiative contact Alan Cummine at alan.cummine@a3p.asn.au

Source: A3P Canopy


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Douglas-fir vs radiata pine for framing lumber

Douglas-fir has been used as an untreated framing timber for over 70 years. That changed following the Leaky Building Crisisand the resulting revision of the New Zealand Building Code. The amended Building Code significantly restricts the use of untreated radiata pine and Douglas-fir in domestic buildings, making no allowance for differences between the species. Scion has recently completed a study that could prompt a review of this ruling.

Suppliers of Douglas-fir argue that Douglas-fir is more resistant to moisture uptake, more durable, and is stronger and stiffer than radiata pine. This latter distinction implies that even if Douglas-fir framing became decayed it would still retain greater stiffness than un-decayed radiata pine. This is an important point as observable decay is the main criterion for replacing framing when a "leaky building" is repaired.

Scion was contracted to design and run a three-year experiment to directly compare the loss of stiffness between radiata pine and Douglas-fir in leaky buildings. Indications are that some decay in untreated Douglas-fir does not cause the same amount of stiffness loss as it does in untreated radiata pine. Therefore when leaks are rectified and the framing timber dried, the structural integrity of Douglas-fir would be retained.

The purpose of these comparative tests was to provide information to allow a possible review of the status of Douglas-fir framing in the New Zealand Building Code, as regards situations in buildings where it can be used untreated or preservative (boron) treated.


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Kyoto forest planting depends on more than carbon price

There will be big changes in the New Zealand landscape if the government follows the logical course and uses tree planting to help reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions. Referring to the Infometrics study released last week, the NZ Forest Owners Association says it would be profitable to plant new forests on hill country even at the lowest carbon prices they modelled. Association president Peter Berg says the key is to have an active and open market supported by the right government policy mix.

The government plans to use carbon pricing as the main way to reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions. It is now getting public feedback on the size of the reduction commitment it should be announcing at United Nations climate change talks later this year. The larger the commitment, the higher the carbon price will need to be to get people to make the necessary changes to their businesses and lifestyles.

The International Panel on Climate Change says developed countries need to reduce their emissions to 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020. "With New Zealand tracking on a "business as usual" basis to be 40% above 1990 emission levels by 2020, even a modest commitment of 20% below 1990 will be a major challenge," says Mr Berg.

"Infometrics figures suggest that to achieve that sort of reduction in emission activity requires a carbon price of more than $200 a tonne. Even at $100 a tonne, a typical radiata forest would generate an average of $2000 or more in carbon credit income per hectare per year for 30 years. That compares with a gross annual income of $530 a hectare on a typical hill country sheep and beef operation."

But before anyone gets too excited at the possibilities, he says there are major barriers to forestry investment, regardless of the carbon price. "Everyone is scared of making long-term investments in the current economic climate, especially in something as speculative as the carbon price at harvest. It's a lottery - will $200 a tonne in 2012 become $500 a tonne in 30 years time, or only $5 a tonne?", he asks.

"Also carbon credits accrue quite slowly in the first 10 years of a forest's life, which is the main period of expenditure. For a farmer converting part of a farm, it means forgoing livestock income during this period. There's also the need for force majeure protection to cover the owner if a Kyoto forest is destroyed by fire, pests or volcanic eruption."

Mr Berg says the answer probably lies in the NZ Government offering land owners a scheme that smoothes the flow of credits through the life of the forest and removes the obligation for repaying the credits, so long as the forest is replanted.


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Tasmania rail misses out on AU$24M in funding

The Australian government decided not to allocate A$30 million (US$23.9 million) in funding to upgrade a rail line that would have been used to move logs to Gunns Ltd's proposed pulp mill in Bell Bay, Tasmania, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) reported on 7 July. Gunns has declined to comment on the decision, ABC reported.

The federal government finalized AU$195 million in funding for nine lines in Tasmania's rail network, as part of a rail rescue package, reported ABC. The government's multi-million dollar investment comes after Tasmania's rail operator, Pacific National Pty. Ltd., owned by Asciano Ltd, decided to leave the state. Source: www.forestweb.com


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Australian tissue makers claim illegal dumping

Australian tissue manufacturers claim that low-quality imported tissue from Indonesia and China is being sold below cost to eliminate the competition, Inside Retailing reported on 7 July. Attorney-General Robert McClelland has ordered the matter be re-investigated after a review of the findings of a 99-page Customs report.

The report said bath tissue was priced as low as 45% under market rates in the countries of origin, adding that future imports from China and Indonesia are also likely to be dumped, with continuing injury to the Australian industry, Insider Retailing reported.

Sanitary products maker Kimberly-Clark Australia said it was facing unfair competition, and corporate services manager Ross Hearne said the company believes it has established a good case of dumping by the two countries.

The bath tissue market in Australia is worth about AU$728 million a year, reported Insider Retailing. Hearne said the imports suppress prices within Australia, potentially below competitive levels, and that the company wants a level playing field. Source: www.forestweb.com



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Industry partnership set up to tackle climate change

Planet Ark and Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) have announced a new industry partnership to work together to educate industry professionals and consumers of the environmental benefits of using wood products sourced from sustainably managed forests and plantations. Recognising that Planet Ark and FWPA embrace shared environmental values on a range of issues, the two organisations will work on a number of initiatives.

"Priority areas will include adoption of certification schemes for sustainable forestry practices, supporting forestry's contribution to biodiversity and developing programs designed to maximise carbon sequestration in wood," Planet Ark CEO, Sean Barrett said.

"Wood is a natural way to store and lock away carbon and we hope that Planet Ark can help get the message out to consumers that by choosing sustainably managed wood products, people can actually do something to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and thus help in climate change," Forest and Wood Products Managing Director, Ric Sinclair said.

Planet Ark recently announced that they were partnering with the UK-based Carbon Trust to introduce carbon content labelling on products to Australia. "Giving people practical tools to help them make better decisions about reducing their impact on climate is a major focus for Planet Ark,"said Mr Barrett.

According to independent market researcher, Mobium Group, Planet Ark ranks as one of the top five most recognised environmental trust marks for Australian consumers. This same research indicates that over 80 per cent of adult Australians are concerned about climate change but most are not changing their purchase behaviour due to barriers such as price, trust and information.


FWPA is an industry and government body responsible for research and development and generic promotion of the forest and wood products sector. FWPA has funded a number of key research projects into the carbon storage value of wood products. FWPA also runs the Wood. Naturally Better" programme aimed at promoting the benefits of wood products.


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Micronised copper - a new wood preservative

Micronised copper is a wood preservative that's been developed as a replacement for solubilised copper systems such as ACQ and Copper Azole. It was introduced to US in 2006. Since its introduction, 11.8 million cubic metres of the treated product has been sold. It's now sold in more than 4000 home centres and lumberyards and micronised preservatives account for more than 50% of treated lumber sold in the US. As well as the US, it's now in commercial use in US, England, Ireland, Turkey, Israel, Taiwan and Korea.

The current method for getting copper into wood is to dissolvethe copper in an organic solvent. Alkaline copper and copper azole products use solvents (MEA or ammonia) to dissolve the copper. Micronised preservatives don't need or use organic solvents. With micronised preservatives, a micronizing technology is used to grind copper particles so small - sub-micron size - that they can penetrate into wood in solid form.

Osmose in the recent Wood Preservation 2009 series run in mid April for wood treatment operations in New Zealand and Australia detailed the new technology, its use, benefits and current approvals that have been granted to the preservative. Included with this presentation is a separate PPT detailing recent Australian trials on the efficacy of micronized copper. Approvals for the use of the technology in this part of the world include NES/ICC approval, ERMA approval, NZS3640 application in place, APVMA (pending), AS1604 approval pending and TUMA and TMA approval.

This technology is part of 17 presentations given at the April Wood Preservation 2009 series. They have now been uploaded for the industry's use and detail a range of new process and product technologies that have or are being developed. The presentations can be downloaded now by Friday Offcuts readers through the Technology Showcase section of the website. FIEA members can access the remaining papers from either the Technology Showcase section on the Offcuts website or going directly to the Tech Updates page of the new FIEA Website. Members now have access to over 250 detailed technology papers or presentations on forest products technologies.

For further information on the technology resources, contact our FIEA offices.


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NZ forestry production and trade information out

As expected, it's not good reading. During the March 2009 quarter production levels of all stage one wood processing in New Zealand declined compared with the same quarter last year. With the exception of particleboard and wood pulp, export volumes decreased in the March 2009 quarter, compared with the same quarter in the previous year. In contrast, a favourable exchange rate and lower sea freight costs meant that export earnings from all forest products increased.

And some of the figures from the last quarter; round-wood removals over the March 2009 quarter declined 8.3 percent to 4.3 million cubic metres compared with the December 2008 quarter. This is the lowest level of harvesting since March 2006. Total log export volumes were 1.6 million cubic metres, down 12.7 percent compared with the previous quarter. Sawn timber production continued to decline over the March 2009 quarter, falling 3.4 percent to 790 000 cubic metres compared with the December 2008 quarter. This is the lowest production has been since the December 1998 quarter.

Over the March 2009 quarter, total production of fibreboard, veneer, plywood and particleboard fell 17.2 percent to 332 000 cubic metres compared with the December 2008 quarter. This is the lowest quarterly total panel production volume since March 1999. That's enough of the bad news. For the full analysis, the March 2009 Quarterly Forestry Production and Trade Statistical Release can be seen by visiting the MAF website


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US$300M domestic biomass supply contract signed

Green Energy Resources has announced it has signed a ten year U.S. domestic biomass supply contract valued at over $300 million dollars. The contract is the largest known U.S. supply contract to date for a single supplier. Supply commences spring 2010. The power plant requirements exceed one million tons annually to upwards of 1.5 million tons.

The contract is significant in reaching or exceeding Green Energy Resources projected revenues in 2010 of $100 million. Green Energy Resources is a US company that sources its wood from urban wood waste streams, storm damage, cities and municipalities. The company is currently engaged in exports to of woodchips to power plants in Europe. For morte information visit www.greenenergyresources.com. Source: www.forestweb.com


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Victoria's Sustainable Forestry Council an industry first

Victoria's forest industry will further improve its environmental sustainability, social licence and economic responsibility with the launch of the Victorian Association of Forest Industries (VAFI) new Sustainable Forestry Council (SFC), an independent body of community representatives set up to guide the future of forestry.

The VAFI has launched the Victorian Sustainable Forestry Council (SFC), a first of its kind for Australia's forest industry. The SFC has been established to seek advice from independent experts and community representatives with an interest in contributing to policy formation for the future of Victoria's forests.

The Council is to be independently chaired by Geoff Mabbett, former CEO of Sustainability Victoria, and will include representatives from Australia's academic, indigenous, environmental and commercial sectors.

"The launch of the Sustainable Forestry Council marks an important step for Australia's forest industry as we establish a leading framework for independent review and oversight," said the VAFI CEO, Philip Dalidakis.

The SFC has been established to provide independent expert and community advice to assist in the formulation of the VAFI's policies and activities at both operational and Board level. "We are proud to break new ground for the industry across Australia," Mr Dalidakis said.


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Container shipping services combine

Two container shipping services between New Zealand and North Asia are being combined according to the NZPA. Hamburg Sud said its Asia, Australia and New Zealand Service (ANZL) service and the Cosco Container Lines (Coscon) and ICS consortium's Asia service will be combined and will operate weekly, arriving on fixed days.

The new service will use six modern vessels capable of carrying 3000 to 3500 TEU, or standard-sized containers and will travel from Auckland to New Plymouth, Nelson, Wellington, Lyttelton, Napier, Tauranga, Tokio, Kobe, Busan, Shanghai, Yantian, Hong Kong, Brisbane then Auckland. The calls at Nelson and Wellington are fortnightly.


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Aluminium industry launches green building initiative

Aluminium industry organizations have launched a new green building initiative. International Aluminium Institute (IAI) chairman Artem Volynets, officially announced the initiative - a new green architecture website: greenbuilding.world-aluminium.org, created to highlight the advantages of using aluminium in architectural design.

According to an association announcement, the new website features some of the world's leading architects and their groundbreaking designs for green buildings-which utilize aluminium applications in innovative ways. The site also provides credible and accurate life cycle data. "Through the IAI, the aluminum industry aims to promote a wider understanding of its products and manufacturing processes and to affect positively the sustainability of the industry, the communities in which it operates and the global communities that rely on its products every day," says Volynets.

Source: USGlass News Network & Tree Frog News


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...and one to end the week on...the winter blues

For those who are getting down with the winter weather - consider this!!

December 8 6:00 PM: It started to snow. The first snow of the season and the wife and I took our cocktails and sat for hours by the window watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven. It looked like a Grandma Moses print. So Romantic we felt like newlyweds again. I love snow!

December 9: We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Can there be a more lovely place in the whole world? Moving here was the best idea I've ever had! Shovelled for the first time in years and felt like a boy again. I did both our driveway and the sidewalks. This afternoon the snowplow came along and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again. What a perfect life!

December 12: The sun has melted all our lovely snow. Such a disappointment! My neighbour tells me not to worry- we'll definitely have a white Christmas. No snow on Christmas would be awful! Bob says we'll have so much snow by the end of winter, that I'll never want to see snow again. I don't think that's possible. Bob is such a nice man, I'm glad he's our neighbour.

December 14: Snow, lovely snow! 8 inches last night. The temperature dropped to -20. The cold makes everything sparkle so. The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shovelling the driveway and sidewalks. This is the life! The snowplow came back this afternoon and buried everything again. I didn't realize I would have to do quite this much shovelling, but I'll certainly get back in shape this way. I wish I wouldn't huff and puff so.

December 15: 20 inches forecast. Sold my van and bought a 4x4 Blazer. Bought snow tires for the wife's car and 2 extra shovels. Stocked the freezer. The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out. I think that's silly. We aren't in Alaska, after all.

December 16: Ice storm this morning. Fell on my ass on the ice in the driveway putting down salt. Hurt like hell. The wife laughed for an hour, which I think was very cruel.

December 17: Still way below freezing. Roads are too icy to go anywhere. Electricity was off for 5 hours. I had to pile the blankets on to stay warm. Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her. Guess I should've bought a wood stove, but won't admit it to her. God I hate it when she's right. I can't believe I'm freezing to death in my own living room.

December 20: Electricity is back on, but had another 14 inches of the damn stuff last night. More shovelling! Took all day. The damn snowplow came by twice. Tried to find a neighbour kid to shovel, but they said they're too busy playing hockey. I think they're lying. Called the only hardware store around to see about buying a snow blower and they're out. Might have another shipment in March. I think they're lying. Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me. I think he's lying.

December 22: Bob was right about a white Christmas because 13 more inches of the white shit fell today, and it's so cold, it probably won't melt till August. Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel and then I had to pee. By the time I got undressed, peed and dressed again. I was too tired to shovel. Tried to hire Bob who has a plow on his truck for the rest of the winter, but he says he's too busy. I think the a******** is lying.

December 23: Only 2 inches of snow today. And it warmed up to zero. The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this morning. What is she, nuts?!! Why didn't she tell me to do that a month ago? She says she did but I think she's lying.

December 24: 6 inches - Snow packed so hard by snowplow, I broke the shovel. Thought I was having a heart attack. If I ever catch the son of a b***** who drives that snow plow, I'll drag him through the snow by his b**** and beat him to death with my broken shovel. I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shovelling and then he comes down the street at a 100 miles an hour and throws snow all over where I've just been! Tonight the wife wanted me to sing Christmas carols with her and open our presents, but I was too busy watching for the damn snowplow.

December 25: Merry Christmas! 20 more inches of the damn slop tonight - Snowed in. The idea of shovelling makes my blood boil. God, I hate the snow! Then the snowplow driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my shovel. The wife says I have a bad attitude. I think she's a f******* idiot. If I have to watch 'It's A Wonderful Life' one more time, I'm going to stuff her into the microwave.

December 26: Still snowed in. Why the hell did I ever move here? It was all HER idea. She's really getting on my nerves.

December 27: Temperature dropped to -30 and the pipes froze; plumber came after 14 hours of waiting for him, he only charged me $1,400 to replace all my pipes.

December 28: Warmed up to above -20. Still snowed in. The B***** is driving me crazy!!

December 29: 10 more inches. Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in. That's the silliest thing I ever heard. How dumb does he think I am?

December 30: Roof caved in. I beat up the snowplow driver, and now he is suing me for a million dollars, not only for the beating I gave him, but also for trying to shove the broken snow shovel up his a**. The wife went home to her mother. Nine more inches predicted.

December 31: I set fire to what's left of the house. No more shovelling.

January 8: Feel so good. I just love those little white pills they keep giving me. Why am I tied to the bed?




And on that note, have a great weekend. Cheers.

Brent Apthorp
Innovatek
PO Box 904
Level Two, 2 Dowling Street
Dunedin, New Zealand
Ph: +64 3 470 1902
Fax: +64 3 470 1904
Web page: www.innovatek.co.nz


This week's extended issue, along with back issues, can be viewed at www.fridayoffcuts.com

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