Emerging trends in international standardization of forest-based products

Jennifer Ellson, Senior Communications Specialist, FPInnovations


Canada's forest industry is undergoing a self-styled transformation, involving a major market shift towards Asia and other emerging markets, and a move towards bioenergy and bioproducts.

FPInnovations is at the forefront of this transformation, monitoring its impact on Canadian forest products and helping position Canadian companies to capitalize on new opportunities.

The flourishing Asian pulp and paper industry,combined with declining demand in North America and Europe has created a significant market shift, particularly for Canadian market pulp producers. China is now the world's largest producer and consumer of paper and board, with a rated capacity of more than 110 million tonnes in 2011, with an annual growth rate of 5.5% for next 10 years. Canada holds a third of the market share for Chinese imports of market pulp, representing 4 million tonnes annually, making China the largest market for Canadian market pulp producers. Moreover, this burgeoning Chinese industry has created a high demand not only for raw materials and new technologies, but also for technical products and services.

In a special report, "Emerging Trends and Issues in International Standardization of Forest-based Products: What Should Canada Watch For?", FPInnovations scientists reviewed emerging issues, current concerns and the latest developments in standardization, specifically those of particular relevance to the Canadian forest industry and its export markets. Particular emphasis is placed on the following four areas:

  • Paper, board and pulps
  • Solid biofuels
  • Cellulose nanomaterials
  • Sustainability

Authored by Maurice Douek, Wayne Bichard, Lyne Cormier, Denis Cormier and Xuejun Zou, the report stated that Canada is well represented and has strong credibility on the various ISO standard development committees, and that strong participation in ISO activities in pulp, paper and board has helped Canada in preventing potential barriers to its export markets, thus creating significant benefits.

"Assuming a leadership role in the development of nanocellulose standards will be particularly important in showcasing Canada's contribution to this important area", the report detailed. "However, with the expectations of tighter biomass trade regulations, Canada needs to be more vigilant than ever in ensuring that new standards and specifications on bioenergy do not discriminate against Canadian products and that it is well positioned to meet new regulations on biomass quality specifications and sustainability requirements."

According to the report, if these steps are taken proactively by Canadian stakeholders, international standards will be of benefit, rather than a deterrent, to Canada's position and ability to compete effectively in the global marketplace.