Koppers Arch sells an alternative called Ecowood (treated with ACQ), which it says performs just as well as CCA-treated timber. In answer to the question of why it promotes alternatives to CCA if CCA is so safe, Koppers Arch responds: ‘We want to give the consumer and user more choice and balanced information on the alternatives available.’ It states ‘We do not support the discrediting of, or negative references to CCA as a way of promoting alternatives’ (Koppers Arch, 2003).
So why does the timber industry promote and market CCA-preservatives when they are likely to be hazardous and there are alternatives available? The answer may be found in one of Koppers Arch’s industry newsletters ‘The CCA Question: What should we do?’ (Carruthers, 2002), which examines the options available to the industry in Australia in the light of regulatory actions overseas:
- Do absolutely nothing and see what happens.
- Dig in deep and defend CCA to the hilt for the sake of the local markets.
- Proactively change from using CCA to alternatives in selected applications/products that are perceived to be more “sensitive”.
- Withdraw CCA for all uses.
The article, by Kopper Arch’s marketing manager, Peter Carruthers, considers that doing nothing and withdrawing CCA are not viable options. Whilst he admits there is considerable support for changing to alternative treatments he points out that these alternatives are expensive (complete arsenic removal from treatment plant machinery during conversion also adds to costs). Significantly he notes that ‘there could be a risk that enforcing this change in certain product areas may just cause loss of market to substitute materials’ (Carruthers, 2002). If the price of treated timber increased then consumers might choose other materials such as plastic, steel or concrete, which would mean a loss of business for the timber industry.
Carruthers, P. (2002) ‘The CCA Question: What Should We Do?’ The Treatment 8 August.
Koppers Arch (2003) ‘CCA and the Alternatives.’ Koppers Arch Wood Protection, http://www.tanalised.com/files/pdf/KACCA-Alt-Pos2003.pdf (accessed 21/4/04).