Our world’s natural sources are limited and more big businesses seem to be taking the initiative to lower their environmental impact, preserving these limited, valuable resources. Mars Corp. recently launched their Sustainable in a Generation Plan that is intended to create a healthier planet by doing what’s right instead of what’s better.
The Mars Corporation was developed by Frank C. Mars more than 100 years ago. Their first products were in chocolate and the first brand they established was Milky Way. Over the years, the company has developed and grown tremendously and they have expanded to many other industries, including pet care, chewing gum, and beverages. The Mars Corporation distributes products worldwide with more than 80,000 associates, they impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
Mars Corp launched a huge plan of action called Sustainable in Generation. According to their website, their plan involves creating a better planet by using a planetary boundaries analysis to control the impact their business has on the world. Some of their goals are:
Wood pallets are commonly used in food transportation, food storage and for many more uses. This is a good thing because using sustainably sourced lumber helps the environment. As trees in sustainably managed forests grow, they absorb carbon from the atmosphere and wood continues to store carbon until it decomposes or burns. In fact, according to our Carbon Calculator that’s based on the EPA’s Waste Reduction Model (WARM) for dimensional lumber, recycling just 100 wood pallets saves 2.81 carbon dioxide emissions per month (in metric tons). This is the equivalent of taking 10 cars off the road!
According to the Mars website, Barry Parkin, the Chief Sustainability and Health & Wellbeing Officer, believes there are four things that sets this approach apart from others:
The North American wood pallet industry started recycling pallets in the 1970’s by diverting them from landfills. Current figures estimate there are more than 4 billion wood pallets in circulation, more than any other type of pallet, because wood pallets are strong, durable, and 100% recyclable. In fact, about half of a wood pallet’s weight is carbon, which was sequestered from the atmosphere! The use of wood pallets is a win-win because it helps the environment and ensures products will arrive at their final destination safely.
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.
There is a growing understanding and acceptance in this country about the huge role that woody biomass plays, both now and in the future, toward conserving resources and overall sustainability of the environment. The term ‘woody biomass’ references the totality of forest components such as trees, limbs, needles, wood wastes and residues, and even discarded wood waste from municipalities. Improved forest sustainability depends heavily on developing consistent uses for forest biomass.
North American forests represent a renewable resource, unlike fossil-based fuels which will eventually run out and be completely gone. Trees sequester carbon from the atmosphere as they grow and they continue to store carbon throughout their life cycles. This is a big factor in the need for making greater use of woody biomass in as many products as possible which are in some way, used by humans. In many European countries, wood-based fuels are already being substituted for fossil fuels, as heat and electricity is generated from woody biomass in the form of wood pellets. There are a plethora of other uses for woody biomass, such as mulch, paper products, and even clothing. The enormous diversity of products which can be derived from wood has yet to be fully capitalized upon, but important new discoveries are encouraged by governments and the scientific community.
For instance, in 2016, three teen-aged girls from Dubai invented a wood-based fireproof foam which can be used as an insulator for construction purposes. After the country experienced a rash of headline-grabbing fires, the girls researched them and found that they were all made worse because polystyrene foam insulation was used in the buildings, and it was discovered this material actually stimulated the spread and intensity of the fires.
The girls’ innovative wood-based foam creation is cheaper to make from wood, is just as good an insulator, it acts as a fire retardant. Plus, it is a sustainable solution. This is the kind of innovative thinking which can take far greater advantage of woody biomass to create useful solutions for the future that take advantage of renewable resources.
Woody biomass contributes in a number of other ways as well to the more efficient usage of our country’s resources. According to its website, the U.S. Forest Service removes tons of biomass from forests each year. In rural areas, woody biomass is often converted to energy, but other benefits of removing woody biomass from forests include job creation, reduced dependence on fossil fuels, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved drinking water, forest fire prevention, and improvement to wildlife habitat.
It is no exaggeration to say that the considerable positive effects imparted by woody biomass extend deep into the social, economic, and environmental aspects of life in this country, and that influence will be felt even more in the coming years. Within the framework of sustainability, woody biomass is a prime example of resources critical to the future of global sustainability and reduced carbon emissions.