- Why Wood?
The ‘BestInAU’ website routinely scours the Internet to find the best deals, the best articles, and the most useful information for its Australian audience, and recently it carried an article in praise of wooden containers for storage, packaging, and delivery. Information in that article has relevance to people all around the globe, since the benefits of wood packaging are applicable to virtually everyone in every location of the world. Here are some of the most important reasons that wood is considered to be such a versatile and effective container for packaging and containing goods.
Wooden crates are perfect for moving a large quantity of goods, since they retain their shape and their integrity of structure even under pressure from within and from without. This can be essential for businesses wishing to keep their goods safe during transportation, and during storage time. When compared to materials such as cardboard, it’s easy to see the durability advantage offered by wood packaging.
Wooden crates are very affordable when brand-new, but they are even more affordable when purchased second-hand and reused. While other materials may be initially cheaper, the fact of wood’s re-usability makes it a better bargain and a more cost-effective choice for storing and packaging.
Speaking of being reusable, the fact that they are so well constructed makes wooden crates highly reusable, almost literally until they fall apart. When your wooden crates do begin to show signs of wear and tear, they can be deconstructed and rebuilt into brand-new wooden crates.
When packaging with wooden crates, you don’t have to worry about corrosion, because wood provides a very effective barrier against dirt, dust, moisture, and many other kinds of debris which might degrade your products in some other container.
When space is at a premium, it’s very helpful to be able to stack your wooden crates vertically, so as to save floor space and warehouse space. This also makes them highly transportable, and can make it more cost-efficient to send stacks of wooden crates holding your goods.
When you’re done using your wooden crates for packaging, they can also be used for a number of other projects as well. They can easily be converted into simple chairs, shelving, or tables for instance, so they can be used all around the home.
If you need wooden crates in a special size or shape, it’s fairly easy to find a vendor who can accommodate your wishes. If you anticipate using wooden crates around the household, there are any number of wood-working specialists who are capable of making high-quality wooden creations, according to your specifications.
There aren’t too many materials which are more eco-friendly than wood, and it’s a packaging material that excels in being reusable and renewable. Provided you obtain your wooden crates from a maker who uses sustainable sources, you can ensure that your wooden packages are recycled after their period of usage, to complete the cycle of renewability.
Nature’s Packaging is committed to the sustainability and recyclability of the wood packaging industry. Recent studies show that 95% of wood packaging materials are recycled and diverted from landfills. When forests are sustainability managed they sequester carbon from the atmosphere to help fight climate change and the wood packaging industry is doing its part to make sure that no lumber harvested from trees goes to waste.
A recent survey conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech University, in collaboration with the National Wood Pallet and Container Association, and the US Forestry Service, has discovered that approximately 95% of all wooden pallets avoid entering landfills, and are instead either resold, repaired for ongoing usage, or pulverized into useful mulch.
This same type of study was conducted in 1998, and the comparison of numbers between the two studies is startling. Factors such as an increased awareness of environmental concerns, overcrowded landfills and disposal areas, and an increasing desire to manage waste more efficiently has apparently led to the dramatic results. The number of wood pallets which are now entering landfills has dropped by an astonishing 86% in the 20 years since the same survey was last conducted.
Recycling takes place both at companies which make use of them for storage and packaging, as well as at landfills and disposal areas where many of the wood pallets eventually find their way. Recycling centers at both types of facilities have workers who routinely inspect received wooden pallets, and have them sorted by what kind of shape they’re in. Those which are still in good shape and suitable for re-purposing after repairs, are sold at a very affordable price to companies which can still make use of them. Those pallets which have really outlived their useful life, and can no longer be effective as storage containers, are usually ground up into wood chips, for eventual use in gardens around the country as mulch.
In 1998 when the survey was last conducted, only about 33% of such facilities had their own recycling functions, but this latest survey has discovered that 62% of the same facilities now perform on-site recycling to extend re-usability. Whereas the total count of wooden pallets reaching landfills in 1998 was approximately 180 million, that figure has now dropped to a little over 25 million, which is an incredible decrease in a mere 20 years.
Recycling is good for everyone
Part of the reason for this enormous increase in recycling and re-usability is that it has become extremely easy for industrial sites to participate in recycling. Pallet recycling companies who deal routinely with wooden pallets will even make regular trips directly to industrial sites for the purpose of retrieving used wooden pallets and crates. Both parties benefit, since industrial companies are paid for their used wooden crates and pallets, and the recycling companies are then able to resell or refurbish crates for resale, so they can also make a profit. Any of the crates or pallets which don’t pass muster are simply fed into a wood chipper, and re-purposed as biofuel, mulch or bedding for animals.
Nature’s Packaging is committed to wood pallet recyclability and sustainability because recycling wood pallets is good for the environment. Our carbon calculator, based on scientific models used by the Environmental Protection Agency, proves this fact; for every 100 wood pallets recycled has the same environmental impact as taking 10 cars off the road.
Wood is strong, flexible, and has been used in a variety of building applications for hundreds of years because it is safe and is a renewable resource. There are many external factors that can affect trees and thus the quality of lumber they produce. These external factors can have significant impacts on the mechanical properties of wood and results in many dramatic changes such as a difference in density, growth rate, tree size and more. Annual growth rings are the rings found inside the tree and these growth rings often give environmentalists the most clues as to what journey a tree experienced in its lifetime.
Trees grow in two directions. First, they grow upwards in order to absorb more sunlight. Then they grow outward to expand in diameter as the tree matures. The upward and outer growth occurs at different times depending on the species of tree and the season.
The outer bark protects the tree from fluctuating temperatures, insects, diseases and is a tree’s first line of defense from its environment. When a tree is healthy then its bark remains intact, allowing the tree to defend itself from insect attacks such as the devastating mountain pine beetle epidemic.
Tree rings that are reflected in a cross-section of a tree are the lines that will reveal most about tree growth. Each ring resembles one year of growth. They are created because trees grow faster during certain seasons and remain dormant during other seasons like winter. These rings will differentiate in width depending on the environmental situation the tree experienced. During heavy rainfall and good environmental conditions, the year rings will be much wider compared to drought seasons where the rings are much thinner.
In some cases, trees can take up to fifty years to reach maturity in order to be harvested for commercial use. As a tree grows it sequesters carbon from the atmosphere and that carbon is stored in the wood throughout its life cycle. The carbon forms long chains that are the backbone to cellulose, which is the primary component of lumber that helps make it a strong and durable material. Many of the products and resources we use every day arrive at our local grocery stores by means of a wood pallet. Wood pallets are a safe, durable, and sustainable way to transport goods and materials needed across the world.
The red planet is one of the last places you would normally associate with sustainability. Yet, this might just change in the near future.
A team of engineers and architects at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recently won the Mars City Design competition with their buildings that are designed to not only sustain human life but also forest and plant life.
They are calling their winning urban designs the Redwood Forest. These artificial forests will involve creating domes that contain large tree habitats that can support up to 50 people with food, water, and oxygen resources.
The Redwood Forest might consist of individual forest domes but live in these domes will hardly be isolated. According to their proposal, these domes would provide residents with plenty of open areas, public spaces, plants, water, activities and residents would be responsible for maintaining forest sustainability within the domes. The domes will also be interlinked with underground tunnels that will enable residents to move from one tree habitat to another. In total, these domes will support a community of thousands of people.
The Redwood Forest domes are also designed to provide residents and forests with all the needed protection from cosmic radiation, micrometeorite impacts, thermal variations and much more.
Valentia Sumini and Assistant Professor Caitlin Mueller lead the team effort and they had the following to say about their genius invention; “On Mars, our city will physically and functionally mimic a forest, using local Martian resources such as ice and water, regolith (or soil), and sun to support life.”
Architect George Lordos, who was responsible for the design of the pods, created his design to harness the energy of the sun to support human and plant life and to harbor water resources as much as possible within plant life. He also included plans for electric vehicles that are designed to make life and transportation between pods much simpler and more sustainable.
Forests create atmospheres conducive to human life and their growth cycles provide us with raw materials we need to support civilization. If it’s true that life on Mars could best support humans by growing sustainable forests, then why would the same not be true on Earth? Every part of a tree can be used and recycled. Nature’s Packaging supports the increased use of recyclable wood pallets when sourced from sustainably managed forests.
Bluestain is the most common type of fungi found in wood products that is commonly confused with mold. Unlike mold fungi, bluestain is not linked to human health issues. Bluestain is not airborne. Also, because the bluestain fungi do not digest the wood cell wall, they have minimal impact on the wood structural integrity. In other words, although it looks harmful, it will not decay the wood.
According to the report “Wood Discolourations & Their Preventions, with an Emphasis on Bluestain” there are two types of bluestain: deep and surface.
Deep bluestain fungi are typically from the genera Ceratocystis, Ophiostoma, Grosmannia, Leptographium and Sphaeropsis that grow deep into sapwood causing dark blue or gray discoloration. The fungi attach themselves to insects that attack trees or logs, especially bark and ambrosia beetles, such as the mountain pine beetle. Any tree or log that is attacked by beetles is likely bluestained. Thus, if a tree has its bark intact, then it won’t be impacted. Trees and logs with damaged bark are also susceptible to be colonized by bluestain fungi. Once the bluestained log is converted to lumber, it shows long blue or gray streaks of color, hence the name “bluestain.”
Unlike decay fungi (or dry rot), bluestain fungi does not destroy the wood cell’s wall. Its impact on the strength of the wood is minimal and it will stop growing once the wood has been heat treated or it has a 19% or less moisture content. Because deep bluestain infiltrates the tree via insects prior to it being felled or as a log in inventory, not much can be done to prevent it from discoloring the wood. Some industries may try to chemically bleach impacted lumber but this is not a widespread industry practice.
Surface bluestain is caused by similar bluestain fungi of the genus Ophiostoma, with Sporothrix or Pesotum anamorphs that invade sapwood after the logs have been processed through a sawmill into lumber. They don’t penetrate the wood deeply but cause discoloration in the wood’s surface that’s sometimes confused with decay mold. Bluestain does not destroy the wood cell’s wall to force decay. As with surface grown molds, these fungi can be removed from the surface of the wood by planing it.
Follow these steps to reduce the chances of fungi from impacting your wood packaging inventory.
1. Keep it dry. Bluestain thrives in wood that has a moisture content greater than 19%. Keeping it dry and in low-humidity conditions will prevent it from growing. If your inventory is stored outside, tarps or paper wrap are useful, but make sure there are holes that allow for ventilation.
2. Keep it ventilated. Storing wood pallets in an unventilated space creates ideal conditions for new bluestain growth, especially in warmer weather. If you must store your wood products inside, providing sufficient air ventilation will reduce the likelihood of bluestain.
3. Keep it clear. Remember, surface bluestain transmits via insects. Ensure the area surrounding your wood products is clear of vegetation or debris that might harbor insects or pests that transmit bluestain.
4. Keep it off the ground. A 6 to 8-inch elevation will ensure that the bottom layer will stay dry from puddles of rain that might form. This will keep your products dry.