Prioritize reforestation,the recycling of wood in industrialactivities and market expansion - INTERVIEW WITH PAOLO FANTONI,
While on my way to Osoppo/Udine to
meet the current President of Asso -
panelli, Paolo Fantoni (who is also
Managing Director of the same industrial
group) I started thinking about
everything that has happened in the
industry over the past 30 years.
In Italy, these last three decades not
have been marked by a strong policy
of reforestation, promotion and development
of the use of wood.
Just think that, in Italy, for the production
of plywood alone (in 2009 production
accounted for approximately
430,000 cubic metres), approximately
1,200.000 cubic metres of “cut” trunks
are required, involving a surface area
of approximately 130.000 hectares, unfortunately lacking in
Italy. Everyone knows that Italy has a dearth of wood supplies
and that, in general, industrialists source supplies from
In view of the situation, I was interested in hearing Mr.
Fantoni’s views on the subject in the hope that “with the
collaboration of all those active in the industry, something
can and must change”.
During our interview, this is what Mr. Fantoni told me: “My
prime objective with the Federation is to represent, as best
as is possible, the demands of our sector during this critical
period, by attempting to focus on the few favourable elements
that exist in this present scenario, such as, for example,
the fairly favourable euro/dollar exchange rate.
Furthermore, a market that needs to be targeted, in a strategic,
rather than tactical manner, is that of the Mediterranean
basin which offers interesting prospects for expansion thanks
to the growth of the building industry and the strong need to
purchase wood and components for furniture.
One of the most burning issues at this time is the problem
regarding the lack of recycled wood which is threatening
the future of panel manufacturers. The cultivation of poplars
now only accounts for 85,000 hectares, with a considerable
decrease compared to ten years ago. Therefore, as far
as the institutions are concerned, my main task will be to
promote initiatives targeted at the use of wood in the high
value-added wood-furniture industry, thus guaranteeing
sufficient raw material for businesses in the sector.
In regard to this, relationships have already been established
both on a local level with the regional councillors for
agriculture in the northern regions and on a national level,
with a request to meet the Minister for agriculture, Galan, to
ask for an amendment to the PAC (Community Agricultural
Policy) regulations in favour of the “non-food” sector.
Arousing public awareness about these issues is extremely
important and Assopannelli will address the matter with
widespread communication activities using a number of different
tools and initiatives. Another sector that deserves to
be analysed in-depth – the newly elected President, Paolo
Fantoni, then went on to conclude- is that of housing constructed
in accordance with the criteria of eco-compatibility
and eco-sustainability. The increase in public awareness
regarding environmental issues have been fostered by the
reconstruction of the areas hit by the earthquake in Abruzzo
and represent a real challenge for the Association which, in
this context, will be able to play a leading role”.
Mr. Fantoni, the sector is up
in arms about the new
wood biomass plant (designed
to burn 14,000 tonnes
of wood rejects from recycling)
soon to become operative
in the province of
Cremona which, undoubtedly
will deplete the
amount of timber available
for the wood panel industry.
What do you thinks about
this absurd situation?
Answer:”The new plant runs
the risk of bringing the
wood-based panel industry
to its knees, because it
would mean that instead of
being used for industrial
purposes, wood would be
used as a source of energy.
The ensuing decrease of
recycled wood would cause
a crisis in the chipboard
panel industry with the inevitable
increase in prices
and a weakening of the
competitiveness of the Italian industries on foreign markets.
It is, therefore, imperative, that the public is informed about
this. Furthermore, we must consider that the value added
of recycled wood in the wood industry is 10 times higher
than that used in a waste to energy plant; while the incidence
of occupation is 25 times higher.
Furthermore, the Dresden resolution – the brain child of the
most recent EPF assembly – asks for the elimination of
incentives to the manufacturers of biomass energy (95% of
these plants use recycled wood), one of the reasons for the
current crisis in the wood market.
As already proposed by environmentalists, the resolution
suggests recycled wood as the first phase and waste to
energy as the last phase of the life cycle of wood.
We therefore ask that priority is given to wood for production
purposes rather than its exploitation for energy and we
invite the Provincial and Municipal Administrations to review
their project for the construction of a wood plant”. Last month, the new Board of Directors of Assopannelli met
to define the guidelines of the Association and the single
product categories. The members of the Board of Directors
include Paolo Fantoni (Chipboard Group), Giuseppe
Invernizzi (Plywood Group), Massimo Massoni (Laminboard
Group) and Fabio Simonella (Semi-worked), in addition to
members elected by the President: Giorgio Agnoletti,
Nicoletta Azzi, Pietro Bellotti, Fabrizio Bergamo, Enrico
Bonzano, Luciano Caspani and Nicola Reni.
The lines of action on which the Assembly deliberated in
terms of future priorities for the Association are:
• identification of a common agricultural policy that rewards
the “non-food” rather than the “food” sector. This should be
drafted and submitted,as soon as possible (by 5
November),to the EU in order to amend the present PAC;
• the reinstatement of the “components” work group within
the federation, one of whose most pressing tasks will be to
analyse the needs of its members in order to optimize logistics
by opening new frontiers in the use of rail transport
that is functional for use by the industry:
• the development of initiatives
aimed at the research and promotion
of the availability of raw wood
material, with particular emphasis
on the poplar-growing sector;
• the assessment of new opportunities
in the field of green-building;
• a new focus on the national and
transnational fair-trade policy, in
particular, with regard to the
Mediterranean basis, whose involvement
in the building sector holds
enormous promise for the future;
• the development of a more
campaign vis-a-vis the mass-media
and public opinion, above all, with
regard to problems such as the
scarcity of raw materials and the
issue of bio-mass stations.
Other aspects that need to be dealt
with over the next three years concern
monitoring of the amendment
of the IPPC directive and formal
recognition, on an institutional level, of the climatic advantages
inherent in wood as well as the fostering of mutual
trust within the industry that minimizes rejects and recycles
them both for new production cycles as well as for the production
of heat energy.
Therefore, the program proposed by the new President of
Assopanelli is extremely welcome and I hope that every -
thing that has been said will be implemented and achieve
the recognition that it deserves.