As you probably already know, climate change and environmental destruction are a growing concern for a lot of manufacturers and companies around the world. With the marking of Earth Day on April 20, 2021, as well as this year’s theme of “Together, we can Restore Our Earth™”, it’s a good time to talk about how the industrial wood industry addresses environmental stewardship and sustainability.
The industrial wood industry, as well as the protective wood packaging industry (pallets, crates, etc.), recognized the importance of good environmental stewardship and environmentally friendly practices long before environmentalism was a mainstream concern. The environment provides for our livelihood and we’ve always worked to protect it.
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who believe that we negatively impact the environment. Earth Day seems like a good opportunity to discuss the issue.
How Can You Kill Trees to Make Pallets and Crates?
It makes sense to tackle one of the biggest misconceptions of our industry first. A lot of people seem to believe that the industrial wood industry cuts trees down just to build pallets, crates, and other wood packaging products. This believe rises out of a basic misunderstanding of what industrial grade lumber is and where it comes from.
The fact of the matter is that pallets, crates, and other wood packaging products are generally manufactured out of industrial Grade #4 and #3 wood. These grades of wood represent what is left out of a log after all the higher grade pieces have been cut out of it.
That means that a log is harvested, brought to a mill, and the mill cuts the log up into as many usable pieces as it can harvest out of that log. They even use computers and CNC technology to make sure they’re getting the best lumber cuts. Most lumber harvested out of a log goes toward furniture making, flooring, and construction. The ugly wood that is left, containing knotholes, wane, and decay is what we use to make protective packaging.
We don’t use the pretty wood, but it’s perfect for pallets and crates, and makes the most economical packaging. And the best part is that we get to use the parts of the log that would otherwise be wasted.
Is Industrial Wood and Wood Packaging Sustainable?
We would argue that industrial wood and wood packaging is the most sustainable material a manufacturer can use to move their products around the world. For example, pallets made from wood can be re-used many times. When they sustain damage, they can easily be repaired and used over and over again. According to a study done by Virginia Tech, at least 95% of all wood pallets are recycled.
When a pallet reaches the end of its lifecycle and can no longer be repaired, it can then be ground up and used for mulch or pet bedding. Eventually the wood material breaks down, is returned to the earth, and helps new thing to grow.
And we can take sustainability one step further.
Forest product companies are responsible for up to three quarters of a billion trees being planted per year, according to Bugwood. Every time a tree is cut down, about 6 new trees are planted in its place, and that adds up to about 1.6 billion new trees planted each year. In the United states alone, 5 million new trees are planted each day. The growth of U.S. forest currently exceeds the number of trees being harvested by 33%, and that means that forests are growing faster than they are being harvested.
Not only are industrial wood products recycled repeatedly, but the resources used to create them are growing faster than we can use them. Industrial wood products are highly sustainable.
What About That Carbon Footprint?
As you already know, your carbon footprint is the measure of greenhouse gas emissions associated with the lifespan of a product. In this case, we’re talking about industrial wood products, such as pallets, crates, banding groove, etc.
While plastic and metal packaging products can have a fairly substantial carbon footprint, industrial wood products actually have a negative footprint. Not only are industrial wood products harvested from sustainable forests, but they also have a negative carbon footprint because the wood actually stores the carbon. In other words, the carbon from wood packaging is not released into the environment at any point during its use as packaging.
Companies trying to reduce their overall carbon footprint should seriously consider using wood packaging over pallets and crates made from other materials.
We Share The Earth Day Vision Every Day of The Year
While a lot of people mistakenly believe that the industrial wood industry creates a negative impact on the environment, it’s clear that this is just a misconception. The fact of the matter is that we LOVE trees and the environment. We work very hard to be good environmental stewards, not just on Earth Day, but on every day of the year.
The environment provides for our livelihood and we will always work hard to protect it.