The Initiative for Green Habitats represents a long term commitment towards providing solutions for the creation of Sustainable Built Environments. This blog attempts to provide an insight to our views, commentaries on our work, ideas that we are working on, and provoke thought where there are more questions than answers.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What's the deal with deal wood?

It is known more commonly as packaging wood, but has earned a common name of deal wood.... maybe because it forms the main packing material for all trade deals. Considering that, there must be a lot of timber that is going around as part of packaging worldwide. Check out some of these figures:
  • The European pallet and packaging industry consumes about 20 million cubic metres of timber annually
  • Packaging is a huge consumer of wood and as a disposable product accounts for one third of municipal waste streams.
  • A report shows that containers and packaging ranked as both the most generated and most recycled municipal waste in 1999, according to Waste News 'September 3, 2001 article. "Economy waste generation soared in late 1990s, an EPA Report says. "Americans generated 76 million tons of both containers and packaging, and of that 37 percent were recycled. EPA's study also revealed that while municipal garbage (one indication of consumption patterns) reached a high of 230 million tons in 1999-- a 7 million ton increase from 1998-- the recycling rate remained flat at 28 percent over the same period.
  • In 2003, the wood packaging represented about 3% of the woodworks industry of the EU.
There are apparently no specific type of wood that is in use, but a predominant volume is pine and other soft woods. The choice is primarily cost, easy to nail, and density. The intention of this post is not to complain on the quality of wood in use, but more on the quantity in use and the need for looking at this material as a potential material for reuse in different applications. Yes, the primary effort should be at reducing this enormous consumption to reduce the up-the-chain load on forestry (considering that none of these can be considered sustainable plant species).
Every tonne of dry wood stores about 1.8 tonnes of CO2 and by letting this resource go to waste and decay, we ensure that much of this is released back into the atmosphere.

You could buy packing wood (or deal wood as it is know here in India) in many of our older wholesale market areas. Considering the huge quantities being generated as a result of our growing economy, we need to start looking at this as a good resource. This wood is susceptible to borers and termites, but simple treatment and only specific uses should resolve that matter. For example- for internal door shutters and for interior woodwork. We find that this wood can also do decently well in outdoor use, with simple linseed oil treatment and similar such methods. Take care to pick the redder of the varieties, which indicates a high content of natural oil already in the wood. The paler versions only mean greater treatment.
Of course, the Indian situation is better- in the sense, we recycle much of this waste. Already, much of poorer India uses this material for their meagre furniture and other woodwork needs, but surely we can put it to better use...
This very argument can apply to the reuse of reclaimed timber from demolished homes, discarded furniture, and many other kinds of waste. All one needs is an open mind, and the intent to reduce our collective ecological footprint.

1 comment:

  1. Packaging plays a vital role in the international trade to safeguard the goods from any breakages. Wooden materials ensure high strength than any other materials such as plastic, paper, etc.