Wood usage and deforestation

The Packaging and crating industry consumes wood and wood products. Examples of uses are sawn products, manufactured wood products such as plywood and OSB, and cardboard and paper.   Industrial crates and pallets consume mainly sawn lumber, OSB and plywood.   Wood is ideal for most packaging applications because it is relatively inexpensive, easy to work with and it is from a renewable source (trees).

Global wood consumption breaks down approximately as follows:

  • Fuel and energy: 55%
  • Timber and sawn products: 30%
  • Paper and Pulp: 15%

Embedded in these percentages are wood byproducts that come from process waste. This includes turpentine, food flavorings, plastic additives and photographic film. Wood and wood products are vital resources for our survival and contribute to our well being in thousands of ways.

The construction industry is the biggest consumer of timber and sawn products.   The average US house uses about 2500 square ft of sawn wood. And while the percentage of wood in a house has declined over the last few decades, the amount of wood has increased because of the increase in the size of the average house (over 1000 SF larger than in 1965) Source.

Wood pallets are also a large consumer of wood, but they tend to be made out of lower grade materials and wastes from saw mills. They also have a 97% recycle rate which is one of the highest reuse rates of all materials.

While wood is a renewable resource and much of it is recycled, there is still significant concern over global deforestation. Our forests provide much more than just sources for wood, they absorb carbon, prevent soil erosion, help regulate our climate and provide sustenance for millions of animal species. Since 1990, global forest cover has declined by nearly 3.2%. Source.   This rate of decline could contribute to significant changes to the world ecology.   While the US, Canada and Europe have adopted effective techniques for mitigating deforestation, South America and Africa have lost nearly 4% of its forest. Brazil contains 13 % of the world’s rain forests.   Forests are being cleared for agriculture and harvesting wood for fuel.

Even in areas where forests are being restored, the replanted trees are more of the quick growing plants, so the ecological mix of trees is also changing.

Forests are a vital part of our global ecology and needs to be protected.   While deforestation is a concern, the good news is that countries are starting to address the issue with a variety of programs which include:

  • Replanting programs (The US and Europe have been leaders in this effort and are experiencing net gains in forest coverage).   Other countries need to adapt viable reforesting programs.
  • More efficient processing: Processing techniques can significantly improve the percentage of wood used
  • Reduce wood consumption: Finding viable substitutes particularly for energy use
  • Recycling: Increasing efforts to reuse and recycle wood.

 

With a continuous global effort the chance of keeping viable forests for future generations is high.