With an involvement in the Australian timber industry exceeding 100 years, the Big River Group recognises that sustainability is a fundamental factor in its longevity.
The Big River Group is very conscious of a range of environmental factors associated with being a participant in the timber industry. A key component of the company policy is maximising the value extracted out of every log processed. This flows through to impact on our strategies for sourcing, manufacturing, marketing and energy usage.
Big River holds long term wood supply agreements (LTWSA) with the State Government of NSW for the sourcing of our raw material log input. Forests NSW estates are accredited under the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) which in turn is certified by the international program for endorsement of forest certification (PEFC). PEFC is the largest assessor of forestry management in the world and Forests NSW is recognised as a leader in best practice sustainable management. The AFS is also the only forest accreditation system in Australia to gain accreditation under the International Standards Organisation (ISO). This system is audited by NCS International to AS4708 (int) – 2003. It is also accredited by JAS-ANZ. Full details of Forests NSW environmental policies and practices can be found on its website.
Chain of Custody
The Big River plywood and flooring manufacturing plant located in Grafton has a full multi-site chain of custody certification under AS4707:2021 (certification number EWPAA-RW-COC-224). The registration number under AFS is 01-31-14, while the registration number under PEFC is 21-31-14. Big River was the first plywood operation in Australia to be accredited under this scheme.
Big River’s LTWSAs include some 85% of the total timber sourced from plantation forests in NSW. This includes both pine and hardwood plantations. Big River is also regarded as the industry leader in adding value to these resources, in particular the hardwood plantations which were originally planted for low grade woodchip usage. Big River sees its unique processes as providing one of the best uses of such a resource, and currently utilises this timber to produce structural grade products, including formply, high quality flooring and stair tread material. The company has received considerable funding from the Government on the basis of this unique ability to add value to the resource.
The balance of the LTWSA is re-growth hardwood, again fully accredited under the AFS and PEFC scheme and harvested on a long term rotational and sustainable basis. Big River sources no timber from old growth forests.
Big River remains one of the oldest operating timber businesses in Australia, thanks to a clear strategy of product development and diversification. Continually assessing our precious resources to determine their maximum utilisation is fundamental to the company philosophy, a strategy that has been recognised and supported by governments at all levels. Big River seeks to work with all our customers to ensure that the technical qualities of our many products are well understood, so maximum value can be extracted by all in the supply chain, from the public owned forest estates to the end customer. This approach will ensure a sustainable future for the resource, the company, suppliers and our many customers nationally and internationally.
Third Party Product Accreditation
As part of the focus on high quality products and third party accreditation, Big River products are accredited under the Plywood Association of Australia (PAA) JAS-ANZ accreditation system, with products covered under Australian Standards 2269 and 2271. Big River also has a sourcing strategy that ensures other products marketed through our organisation are also covered by such an accreditation scheme wherever possible. For example, all LVL products marketed by Big River are also accredited under this PAA JAS-ANZ scheme.
This product accreditation scheme extends to identifying the quality and strength of products. Big River formply products (Armourform) are manufactured to maximise the reuse of the product, and hence the total value extracted is among the highest in the world. This again ensures maximum usage of the timber resource used in production.
In line with the vision to maximise the value of every log processed, Big River has installed an industry leading co-generation electricity plant, where manufacturing wood waste is used to create renewable energy on site, thereby greatly reducing the company’s requirement to source energy from the grid. This power plant is officially registered with the Office of Renewable Energy, and also qualifies for Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), an official recognition of the production of “green energy”. The power station accreditation number under the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 is BEBMNS09. Big River has again been recognised by Government for this initiative through a major joint development and funding program.
Pollution Incident Response Management Plan (PIRMP)
Big River is committed to taking the greatest care of the environment while going about its business. Ensuring the highest level of environmental performance at sites and plants is regarded in the company as everyone’s business. Big River’s Pollution Incident Response Management Plan (PIRMP) has been developed to comply with the requirements introduced by the Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Act 2011 (POELA Act) to prepare and implement a pollution incident response management plan.
The objectives of the plan are to:
- Ensure timely communication about a pollution incident to workers and visitors on site, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), other relevant authorities (Wagga Wagga City Council, Emergency Services, NSW Departments of Health, Planning and Infrastructure, Primary Industry and WorkCover NSW) and community members who may be affected by the impacts of the pollution incident;
- Minimise and control the risk of a pollution incident at the facility by requiring identification of risks and the development of planned actions to minimise and manage those risks; and
- Ensure that the plan is properly implemented by trained employees, identifying persons responsible for implementing it, and ensuring that the plan is regularly tested for accuracy, currency and suitability
A copy of this plan along with procedures for communicating with the community and contact details of Ausply personnel responsible for activating plans, managing the response and those authorized to notify relevant authorities can be found here.