When Victorian recycled timber warehouse, Timberzoo, chose to obtain FSC certification they decided to go for two certificates at once, confirming that more is, indeed, better.

By Lisa Smyth

A former bridge in Cairns, a wharf in Queenscliff, a pier in Portarlington – the magnificent Australian native hardwood timbers used to build the crossings and connections of our wide brown land are finding purpose again as FSC-certified recycled timber at Timberzoo.

Timberzoo is a recycled timber warehouse located on the Bellarine Peninsula, just south of Melbourne. They offer a broad range of timbers for landscapers, shopfitters, designers and furniture makers, specialising in Australian hardwoods and species used in building and construction from early- to mid-20th century. In 2017 they embarked on the journey to obtain FSC certification, and now hold two certificates – an FSC Recycled 100% certificate and an FSC Chain of Custody certificate.

“It all kicked off when our key supplier of plantation sugar gum suggested we obtain the FSC Chain of Custody certificate so we could sustain his FSC accreditation of product all the way to the end user,” recalls Dave Hutchens, owner of Timberzoo.

“As we specialise in recycled timbers we also saw the opportunity to gain the FSC Recycled certification. It has been a tough first year coming to grips with the considerable detail required to achieve and maintain FSC certification, but we recognise the increasing government and commercial demand and so we consider the investment worthwhile,” says Hutchens.

Everything Old is New Again

Timberzoo’s focus on recycled timbers was already a nod to an environmentally conscious and sustainable approach to construction, so FSC certification was a natural next step.

FSC Australia CEO, Sara Gipton, agrees that “it’s great to see a business thriving on recycled timbers. The FSC recycled standard recognises the role reclaimed and recycled material plays in protecting the world’s forests. FSC is a voluntary market-based scheme, so every new timber supplier who joins FSC shows the demand from the construction and architectural community for high-grade, sustainably sourced timber.”

Currently, 1.2 million hectares of Australian forest is FSC certified, and FSC certification is increasingly being recognised as tool a to guarantee sustainability. The recycled label is unique to FSC – no other forest certification scheme has a recycled standard.

At Timberzoo, large dimension timbers from bridges and wharves are sorted and docked to length for resale as recycled pergola posts and beams, porticos, exposed ceiling joists, garden seats, retaining walls and other visible structural elements of residential and commercial projects.

“Both our bridge timbers and re-milled dressed timbers qualify as FSC Recycled 100%. Having a piece of Australian history line the floor of your new restaurant, or shade you from the sun in your backyard, makes using Timberzoo recycled timbers all the more special,” says Hutchens.

A sweet deal

However, the FSC Chain of Custody certificate for the sawn logs of plantation sugar gum sourced from Yarra Timbers in Lismore has been a harder sell to the primarily residential market. Consumers are price-sensitive, but unsure of the importance and relevance of certification.

“Sugar gum log is a credible and durable species, but it is not first choice for every application. I don’t believe the industry is ready to supply joinery grade in sugar gum yet, but we are looking at the supply chain for future years with that in mind. Currently decking and cladding boards are our primary focus,” says Hutchens.

FSC Chain of Custody certification demonstrates compliance with public and private sector procurement policies, and numbers remain stable in Australia, at around 300 certificates.

“Timberzoo has undergone an independent audit, and is now certified, meaning it met the FSC Chain of Custody standards. Being an FSC Chain of Custody certificate holder means Timberzoo can provide customers with supply chain assurance, label and sell products as FSC certified, and supply the increasing number of projects that include FSC in specifications or tenders,” says Gipton.

“As a certificate holder, Timberzoo is part of the FSC story – about sourcing and tracing timber. They can assure clients that their FSC recycled products are verified, and that their FSC-certified forest products come from a place that is responsibly managed, protects wildlife and worker safety, and upholds indigenous and local community rights,” Gipton adds.

For now, Hutchens believes that “the certification industry is still in its infancy in Australia, but it has the potential for broader acceptance as the market demand for sustainable timber increases.”

For more, go to timberzoo.com.au