CWPCA, the voice of the Canadian wood packaging industry

December 1, 2018

In 2005, the CWPCA lobbied to become recognized as a service provider for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in what is now known as the HT Program.    When I reflect on those times, and the CWPCA meetings that I was then attending as a member, the talk was that the primary benefit to industry of the CWPCA being awarded the role, was that we could, because of our “not for profit status”, deliver these services at a uniform, economically feasible cost from coast to coast and ensure that certification was achievable for anyone producing wood packaging for export.  Something that we are very proud to have accomplished.  What we are finding now, twelve years into this endeavor is that there are benefits gained that I am not sure were part of the original plan.

The successful delivery of the inspection program to close to 460 clients from coast to coast has served to benefit the Association and the wood packaging industry in many ways.  The uniform cost approach has helped to ensure very high industry participation levels in the program (87% of all wood packaging producers in the country are registered based on combined Stats Can and industry data sources).  This high participation is seen as favorable by government, and has helped lead to a very robust phytosanitary export program in the country.  CFIA statistics point to an almost zero rate of foreign pest interceptions on certified wood packaging as well as a 50% reduction overall in notices of non-conformances in wood products in the last two years alone.  The statistics themselves are an indicator of the success of the program, and that success is a key contributing factor in the elevation of the image of the industry, and the credibility of the Association.

You might at this point, find yourself asking what this means, or where I’m going with this.  Please allow me to explain:

 

Effectively delivering the inspection services, statistics which point to the success of the program overall, and very open and continuous communications with the CFIA has allowed CWPCA to expand its role over time and make a greater impact to the Canadian wood packaging industry.  Our status in the program has led to seats on several committees and working groups where we are the sole voice that is specific to the wood packaging industry in Canada.  These committees and working groups include representatives from the lumber industry in Canada and the USA, CFIA, Global Affairs Canada, the National Research Council, the Canadian Forest Service, USDA/APHIS, and our friends at the NWPCA.  

Being at the table with these other stakeholders provides us greater insights into the overall picture by hearing other perspectives, while giving us the opportunity to voice opinions, share information, and teach others about our industry.  We find ourselves recognized as the industry experts in Canada, and are consulted in the decision-making processes for policies including those that may not be directly linked to the industry, but affect us in a round about way.  More importantly, participation and acceptance in these forums builds rapport with other stakeholders and policy makers, and in turn lends further credibility and visibility to our industry.

Over the past two months I have been tasked with attending two national committee meetings, and will be participating in an international working group on recycled wood packaging.  Currently, there are multiple initiatives being driven by CWPCA, and we are hopeful that we will be able to deliver on these efforts to the collective benefit of the industry.  These things take time; however, we have been able to communicate our position, have garnered support from other industry stakeholders for our cause(s), and are actively pursuing changes.  

To circle back to the opening, our current position as active, credible, and welcomed participants in these high-level committees and working groups is directly attributed to the work done in the past to secure the third-party auditor status and the effective implementation and delivery of the HT inspection program.  The relationship with the CFIA and involvement in the HT Program has led to us having a much larger voice.  It has allowed us to become an active participant  in discussions and decision-making processes that in the past we have been but witnesses to.

As we have come to that point in the year where we will be collecting inspection fees and soliciting your membership renewals, we want you all to know that in the end the work that we do is for you.  Your support of the CWPCA is critical in ensuring that our position and relationships with policy makers and stakeholders alike remains as is, and our voice remains heard.  We thank all of our members old and new for your continued support, and look to you to spread the word to those in the industry who are not part of the association and let them know that we are here working for them too and encourage them to investigate membership in the CWPCA.

 

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