Wood Is a Sustainable Choice for Packaging and Shipping Materials

Welcome Nature’s Packaging readers, in this blog post we’re going to be talking about the importance of sustainability in our world today and how wood plays a crucial role in it. We’ll be reviewing the benefits of wood as a renewable resource, and why it’s a great choice for packaging and shipping materials.

Trees are one of the most important resources in the world, providing countless benefits to people and the environment. Not only do trees provide oxygen and help to regulate climate change, but they can also be harvested as a renewable resource.

Trees have a wide range of uses for humans, from providing food and fuel to being used in construction and packaging among other things. Furthermore, trees are capable of regenerating themselves when properly managed, making them an excellent resource that is both sustainable and environmentally friendly.

So, what is a renewable resource? Well, a renewable resource is a resource that can be replenished or regenerated over time. Examples of renewable resources that are being utilized today include solar energy, wind energy, and, of course, wood.

One of the main advantages of wood as a renewable resource is that it can be replanted and regrown. In fact, in the United States alone, more than 1.9 billion trees are replanted every year. Trees are a renewable resource because they can be harvested and then replanted, making it a sustainable choice for packaging and shipping materials.

Unlike non-renewable resources like fossil fuels, wood is not a finite resource. It is a sustainable choice for packaging and shipping materials because it can be replenished, and when managed responsibly it can be re-used, and ultimately recycled.

Another advantage of wood as a sustainable choice for packaging and shipping materials is that wood is biodegradable. This means that it can break down naturally in the environment, unlike plastic or metal alternatives which can take hundreds of years to decompose.

Biodegradability is defined as the process of organic matter breaking down over time, until it is completely decomposed by microorganisms in its environment. The length of time for biodegradation of wood depends on several factors like the species of the wood, whether the material is left whole, or turned into chips by mulching.

Wood is also a cost-effective choice for packaging and shipping materials. Its cost-effectiveness, durability, and availability make it a popular choice among businesses and consumers alike.

As a natural material, wood has been used in packaging since ancient times due to its ability to protect goods during transportation. In the modern age, wood has been adapted to meet changing needs of consumers and businesses while remaining cost-effective, making it the ideal choice for supply chain and warehouse operations.

Wood is a renewable resource that can be replanted and regrown, making it a sustainable choice for packaging and shipping materials. It is biodegradable, cost-effective, and widely available. By choosing wood as a packaging and shipping material, companies can help reduce the environmental impact of supply chain operations and contribute to a more sustainable future.

Why Wood Pallets are the Best Choice for Supply Chain Sustainability

Wood pallets are the modern equivalent of the Swiss army knife in supply chain operations. Pallets function as protection, transportation, and storage unit for countless numbers of items that ship all over the world, every day. Their versatility in design and ease of construction is unmatched by any other piece of material handling equipment in the daily operations of logistics and shipping.

Beyond their functional ability, wood pallets are seen as a best choice for companies when they want to achieve sustainability measures in their supply chains. Wood pallets have a number of key factors that make them the best choice in this regard.

In this Nature’s Packaging series over the next few weeks, we’ll dive deeper and take a focused look at what makes the wood pallet such a great choice when it comes to sustainability goals.

Below are the 5 key factors that will be discussed in the upcoming blog posts here in NP. Feel free to incorporate these into your messaging and help your customers understand why wood pallets are the best choice to help them achieve their supply chain sustainability goals.

  1. Renewable resource: Wood is a renewable resource, meaning it can be replanted and regrown, making it a sustainable choice for packaging and shipping materials.
  2. Recyclable and biodegradable: Wood pallets can be recycled or broken down naturally, unlike plastic or metal alternatives. This reduces the environmental impact of the pallets at the end of their useful life.
  3. Durable and reusable: Wood pallets are durable and can be used multiple times, reducing the need for constant replacement, and minimizing waste.
  4. Cost-effective: Wood pallets are often less expensive than other materials, making them a cost-effective choice for businesses looking to reduce their environmental impact.
  5. Widely available: Wood pallets are widely available, making them easy to source and implement in supply chain operations.

Wood pallets offer a sustainable, cost-effective, and widely available solution for businesses looking to reduce their environmental impact and achieve their supply chain sustainability goals. Join us next week for a look at wood as a renewable resource. See you there.

The Wood Pallet Specification-A Quick Review

A wood pallet specification is a document that outlines the design, construction, and performance requirements for wooden pallets used in the transportation and storage of goods.

These specifications are critical for ensuring that pallets meet the necessary safety and performance standards, as well as facilitating efficient logistics and supply chain operations.

What are the key elements of a wood pallet specification?

  • The size and weight of the pallet, including both overall dimensions and the size of individual components such as deck boards and stringers.
  • The type of wood used in the construction of the pallet, including both the species and grade of wood.
  • The type of fasteners used to assemble the pallet, including both the size and material of the fasteners.
  • The load-bearing capacity of the pallet, including both the maximum weight and volume that the pallet can safely support.
  • The type of forklift and handling equipment that the pallet is designed for, as well as any special handling or storage requirements.

The type of protection required for the pallet, for example if it needs to be heat treated for export outside the country.

In addition to outlining these technical requirements, a wood pallet specification should also provide guidance on quality control, testing and inspection procedures, and any relevant safety and regulatory standards.

Why is a pallet specification useful for both the customer and supplier?

  1. It provides a clear and consistent set of standards for the design and construction of wooden pallets, which can improve safety and performance.
  2. It allows manufacturers and suppliers to understand and meet the specific needs of their customers. This can lead to more efficient logistics and supply chain operations.
  3. It also facilitates better communication between different parties involved in the supply chain including warehouse operators, transportation providers, and end-users.

The responsibility for creating a wood pallet specification typically falls on the manufacturer or supplier of the pallets. This can be done individually or collectively with industry associations, regulatory bodies, and other stakeholders.

A wood pallet specification should be updated regularly, as industry standards and regulations change over time, as well as keeping up with the new technology and advancements in the field. It is also important to consider updating it in response to any changes in customer or industry needs.

Wood pallet specifications are critical for ensuring the safety and performance of wooden pallets used in transportation and storage. They should include key elements such as size and weight, type of wood, fasteners, load-bearing capacity, handling equipment, and protection requirements. The manufacturer or supplier should create these specifications and update them regularly to ensure they meet the latest standards and customer needs.

Sustainable Forest Management and Wood Pallets

The wooden pallet and container industry has embraced sustainability as both a core practice within the operating processes of the industry, and as a key value add to our customers in helping them achieve their own sustainability goals in their supply chain.

As more and more companies in this industry utilize data to provide insight and tell a story about their commitment to sustainable practices; the knowledge, data, and practices have a trickle-down effect from the largest companies in the industry to the small mom and pop pallet yards that are the backbone of the industry.

As a whole, we realize that the benefits of sustainability go beyond merely integrating into our customer’s goals, data, and marketing. There is real potential to be a leading light in the reduction of emissions and the science of carbon sequestration.

These topics can have real financial consequences for our bottom lines that will have a profound effect on our industry. And rest assured, if it becomes clear that our business processes are fully in line with the economic benefits of carbon capture and carbon credits, then our industry will be transformed by investments from some very large companies.

The industry is now witnessing the effects of attention from investment groups that realized how critical the pallet industry is to the supply chain and have begun consolidating assets to gain an edge.

But let’s take a step away from industry affairs for a moment and focus on another aspect of sustainability and how it can affect our industry. Most of the time, we are focused on the “downstream” effect of our sustainable practices and the value added by them. In this particular Nature’s Packaging post, we want to look “upstream” at sustainable practices in a critical area of the forest and forest products realm that adds value to our industry.

Sustainable forest management has been covered by Nature’s Packaging in previous posts, so we won’t delve into it as it benefits a forest itself. In this NP post, we want to summarize how sustainable forest management benefits the wood pallet industry in particular.

As we move forward globally with initiatives designed to save and manage forest from a more ecological and holistic perspective, the ability to source raw materials will change. With that change will come a change in our core products, the wood pallet and container, as well. As an industry, we must be ready for changes in policy and regulation that will inevitably be a part of that process.

The benefits of sustainable forest management must be weighed against the ability for our industry to do business in a meaningful way and remain profitable.

To that end, let’s review some of the ways sustainable forest management benefits the wood pallet industry:

  1. Ensures a steady supply of wood:  Sustainable forest management practices aim to maintain or increase the health and productivity of forest ecosystems over the long term. This helps to ensure that there is a continuous supply of wood available for the wood pallet industry.
  2. Reduces costs:  Sustainably managed forests are typically more efficient and cost-effective to log than forests that are not managed sustainably. For example, selective logging practices, which involve removing only certain trees from a forest rather than clear-cutting the entire area, can help to reduce costs and minimize waste.
  3. Enhances the reputation of the industry:  Sustainably managed forests are generally seen as more environmentally friendly, and the wood pallet industry can benefit from this positive reputation. Using sustainably sourced wood can help to attract customers who are concerned about the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions.
  4. Protects against future risks:  Climate change and other environmental pressures pose significant risks to the wood pallet industry. Sustainably managed forests are more resilient to these risks, as they are better able to adapt to changing conditions and continue to provide a reliable source of wood.

These are succinct points that offer a broad perspective to you as a reader. Essentially, they address supply, costs, marketing, and the environment as it relates to the pallet industry. It is your challenge to contemplate the implications of each of these points and decide where (and when) your company, and the industry, need to focus.

Sustainable forest management offers a range of benefits for the wood pallet industry, how will you add those benefits and create value for your business and the industry?

The Philosophy of the Wood Pallet

Where would the world be without pallets? When it comes to pallet philosophy this is one of the key questions that we ask ourselves as we sit cross-legged on a small stack of pallets.

Not really, but it’s a great image to contemplate if you’ve met some of us.

The reality is that pallets have revolutionized the way we do commerce. The unit load and the pallet are the cellular organism of the system we call the supply chain and our role as an industry is to provide essential services to our customers.

Even a pandemic couldn’t stop the pallet industry from doing the important work of keeping the supply chain running in spite of such a black swan event.

When companies are looking for a sustainable solution that fits their business processes, the wood pallet is a key piece of the puzzle.

There are several reasons why wood pallets are often the preferred choice for shipping products through the supply chain:

  1. Durability: Wood pallets are durable and long lasting. This makes them a good choice for shipping heavy or bulky items that need support.
  2. Strength: Wood pallets are strong and able to support significant weights, making them suitable for a wide range of shipping needs.
  3. Versatility: Wood pallets are versatile and can be used for a variety of shipping applications, including air, sea, and ground transportation.
  4. Recyclability: Wood pallets are manufactured from renewable resources and can be recycled or repurposed when they reach the end of their useful life.
  5. Cost-effective: Wood pallets are generally more cost-effective than other materials, particularly when they are used for longer periods of time.
  6. Widely available: Wood pallets are widely available and easy to source, making them a convenient choice for many supply chain operations.
  7. Customization: Wood pallets can be easily customized to meet specific shipping needs, such as size, weight, or handling requirements.

Overall, wood pallets offer a combination of durability, strength, versatility, and cost-effectiveness that make them a popular choice for shipping products through the supply chain.

The wooden pallet and container industry is ready to step into the light as a resource for sustainable solutions. The industry is committed to being a part of the solution to climate change issues and having a positive impact on the environment. Our business processes are designed with the principles of reduce, re-use, and recycle as part of their daily operations.

Technology is changing the way the supply chain operates and what new insights are available. Pallets are one of the few platforms that travel from origin to destination in the chain, and are being tapped in new ways for their value through data, analytics, and novel KPI’s.

Our industry loves to build and experiment, and we are ready to integrate new technologies and test them in the supply chain.

2023 is going to be a great year for our industry and we at Nature’s Packaging truly believe that wood can change the world, one pallet at a time.

Wood pellet fuel

Wood Pellet Fuel – A Nature’s Packaging Review

Wood pellet fuel is a sustainable and renewable source of energy that has become increasingly popular in recent years. This biomass based fuel can be manufactured from many different types of forest products including compressed sawdust, wood chips, and other forms of organic matter.

Wood pellets are an alternative fuel source to traditional fossil fuels. Fossil fuels, like oil or coal, can require more work to be extracted from the ground. The pellets are also much easier to store than conventional sources due to their uniform shape and size, which allows them to be transported with greater ease. Additionally, wood pellets have a higher heat output than other bio-fuels, allowing for improved efficiency in burning.

Benefits of Wood Pellet Fuel

As an alternative energy source to other fuel types, wood pellets can be used to power boilers, furnaces, and stoves for both commercial and residential applications.

One major benefit of using wood pellet fuel is its high energy efficiency. Because pellets are manufactured as a denser form of biomass, they have a higher heat output than other current bio-based fuels and they can burn longer than other bio-fuel sources like wood chips.

This makes them ideal for providing long-term heating solutions in colder climates where temperatures drop below freezing regularly. The low moisture content also means they produce less smoke.

The Wood Pellet Production Process

The production process for wood pellets occurs in several stages:

  • harvesting
  • drying
  • grinding
  • compressing
  • packaging.

Harvesting begins with the gathering of wood residue and waste such as slash, sawdust or shavings from lumber mills, and recycled wood waste from pallets. This material is then dried to reduce moisture content before being ground into very small particles. After the particles are crushed and screened for size consistency, they are then compressed under high pressure into cylindrical shapes known as pellets which can easily be transported and stored without taking up too much space.

Types of Wood Pellets

There are several different types of wood pellets available on the market today, each with its own unique properties that make it ideal for a variety of applications.

A very common type are hardwood pellets, which are made from hardwood tree species such as oak and maple. These pellets offer more energy efficiency due to their high density and low moisture content.

Softwood pellets are also available, which are typically composed of softer tree species like pine or spruce. While they don’t burn quite as hot as hardwood pellets, they’re generally more affordable and better suited for use in residential settings.

Pallet waste residue is also capable of being converted into wood pellet fuel and a number of pallet businesses have set up operations to do just that.

Cost Considerations

Cost considerations are an important factor when it comes to deciding whether or not to switch to wood pellet fuel. Wood pellet fuel can offer many advantages, including cleaner burning and even cost savings over time. However, it is important to consider the initial costs associated with switching over before making the transition.

The first cost consideration is purchasing the pellets themselves. Industrial size bagging and sale of pellets is usually calculated by the ton and often falls between $250-350 per ton and depends heavily on the region where they are produced and the seasonality.

When considering wood pellets for home use, a pellet stove or insert for heating must be purchased upfront; these appliances range in price from several hundred dollars up depending on quality and size. Installation fees may also apply if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself.

The wood pellet bags themselves, which are most likely available in your local home store, can cost anywhere from $15-$30 per 40lbs bag, again depending on the region where they are produced and the seasonal weather.

Renewable Energy and Environmental Impact

Wood pellet fuel is becoming an increasingly popular form of renewable energy source, as it is reliable, clean-burning, and cost-effective. The production of wood pellets requires less energy than other forms of bio-fuel to manufacture; however, pellet fuel does come with its own set of issues regarding its environmental impact.

Burning wood for heat releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which contributes to global warming; however, when compared with burning fossil fuels such as coal or oil, wood pellets can produce fewer emissions overall. This is dependent on the equipment used to burn the material, among other factors.

Wood pellet fuel has proven to be an effective, clean-burning, and reliable source of renewable energy. With a wide range of advantages, such as being cost efficient, easier to transport and store than other fuels, it’s no wonder why the demand for wood pellet fuel is increasing. There are many factors that come into play when considering whether or not to use wood pellet fuel; however, its versatility makes it an attractive option for some businesses and homeowners.

 

The Circular Economy-New Idea, Re-Modeled

The definition of a circular economy is straightforward but transitioning to the new model remains challenging. Consumers and business leaders have grown accustomed to a wasteful, linear product lifecycle. Manufacturers fabricate goods, ship them to retail outlets, and people buy the items they believe provide the most significant value. But what happens afterward? Most people discard old or broken products without a second thought. Yet, a circular economy breaks the cycle of wastefulness, providing an alternative to the current system and a way to fight climate change.

The Circular Economy – The New Idea

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a circular economy “keeps materials, products, and services in circulation for as long as possible.” The typical product lifecycle entails fabricating new items from raw materials, sometimes natural resources, but there is little emphasis on sustainability. If there’s a choice between saving money on production or operating with sustainability, most choose the easy route.

A circular economy takes a different perspective. There is a concerted effort to eliminate waste at a fundamental, systemic level. Products manufactured in the current linear economic structure will not be returned to the manufacturer and recycled.

In a circular economic model, they would. The manufacturer can repair, reproduce, or recycle products using re-fabricated parts, creating a return-loop that promotes and operates with less waste – and lower manufacturing costs. The most vital concept is to be as efficient as possible while maintaining sustainability, including (if possible) using renewable energy.

Circular Economy-Recovered and Recycled

A circular economy isn’t a theoretical framework because real-world examples exist. The difference is that the global economy has yet to shift to a new model. Still, businesses continue to demonstrate how to accomplish the feat and push back on climate change.

Supply Chain

Many international companies in consumer facing industries, like automotive or electronics, are implementing closed loop-reverse logistics programs to capture savings in their manufacturing processes. These businesses enabled a “reverse logistics” system in coordination with partners and suppliers. These organizations gather and reassemble disused components and re-sell them via their reverse logistics supply chain. The result is greater efficiency since reassembled parts cost significantly less than new components. Those savings get passed to consumers, and all parties’ benefit. These industries have renovated hundreds of thousands of parts and components that meet similar specifications as new components.

Wood Pallets

Companies in the wood pallet industry have adopted similar systems, where new products are recycled and re-manufactured from existing pallets. Circular economics in this sector have spawned businesses that recover wood in the form of used pallets and other wood waste and re-purpose it as viable products all the way through the end and beyond of its own product lifecycle. The recycled pallets have the same functionality despite being reused in the supply chain more than once. If waste byproducts occur, those byproducts get used in other ways, such as using leftover wood for compost, or even wood pellets. This way, every ounce of recycled wood has a purpose and reduces the number of trees required to meet demand.

Why is It Important?

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle seem aimed at a personal level of responsibility to start and that is great. However, a circular economy model offers a different path forward. It allows businesses and consumers to participate in a healthy economic system that protects the environment and fights climate change. The assumption that circular economics introduces unnecessary costs is inaccurate because real-world examples prove it’s possible. The next step is the widespread deployment of circular economic principles, and that’s where the global economy stands today. There’s a clear choice between conducting business as usual or moving on to a sustainable system.

Circular Design – How Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Can Be Part of Product Design

The principles of circular design are integral to the concept of a circular economy, a new economic model that values sustainability and efficiency. Many products don’t return to the manufacturer in today’s linear economy, nor would they arrive in a recyclable condition. Sustainability wasn’t a priority when mass consumption became the norm, and many products were never designed for systematic reuse. The economic system today follows the “make, take, discard” product lifecycle, but circular design provides an opening for a sustainable economy.

Circular Design – A Definition

Circular design entails a fundamental shift from wastefulness toward sustainability from the product’s conception to its fabrication. Everything is designed for reuse multiple times instead of designing for failure or obsolescence. It’s a change that maximizes economic efficiency since products and their components are recycled instead of thrown away. Circular design enables innovation in ways that the linear economy can’t provide and entails the following principles.

Circular Design Principles

According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the four principles of circular design are:

  • Understand
  • Define
  • Make
  • Release

The result is a new product lifecycle designed for sustainability with each iteration. It incorporates the three “R’s” principles – reduce, reuse, and recycle – and supports the creation and manufacturing of products that can be reused time and again.

Understand

The first principle is to understand where the most significant opportunities are ready and available. Not every product or service lends itself to circular design because the business doesn’t operate on a sustainable model.

Understanding the current product design, its shortcomings, and its lifecycle gives business leaders a direction when adopting circular design. The idea is to construct products and processes that are regenerative and restorative instead of destructive and wasteful. Changes in the model can include a more robust connection from fabrication to services where downstream recycling is regenerative and/or restorative and maintains a viable product (read: pallets) that is reusable throughout its lifecycle.

Define

The defining principle articulates the specific business processes that can benefit from circular design. The supply chain is a perfect example. The challenges in supply chain operations may differ from company to company, yet they aren’t insurmountable.

It takes a multi-disciplinary, collaborative effort between provider and customer to identify processes and transition to a more sustainable design that includes the materials used to make the products. The definition of success must be clear and attainable because the following principle relies upon clarity. If the purpose seems elusive, the proper course is to return to narrowing down and understanding the opportunity.

Make

Here is where businesses can take action and prioritize which products and/or processes are likely to succeed according to clearly defined sustainability objectives and which ones need further development. One strategy is to test concepts with rapid prototyping and to embed feedback mechanisms to optimize the design.

An easy low-hanging fruit to pluck is re-examining the raw materials that go into a product. Is it feasible to make the item with biodegradable materials, or is it a better candidate for recycling? Can it incorporate both into production? The answers boil down to what the user needs. Many times, different versions of the same product may be necessary to test and achieve circularity since the design requires innovation and creativity. This is where research and development take place, literally and figuratively. Think of the purpose of facilities like the Virginia Tech – Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design.

Release

The last principle is launching the new design, but it doesn’t stop there. Circular design demands continuous improvement and a constant focus on efficiency. That’s why it’s best to launch and learn, releasing products to redesign and refine processes, with the ultimate goal of creating a circular product lifecycle. Creating a circular economic system demands no less than a concerted, multi-pronged approach.

Circular Design and the Wood Pallet Industry

The question is: do real-world examples of circular design exist? And the answer is yes. The wood pallet industry is a prime example of how design can enable circular economics to the company’s benefit. Wood pallets don’t require new raw materials each time. Manufacturers can produce them from sustainably sourced wood, recycled wood components, or a combination of both. Another example is a pooled pallet rental system which many large enterprises rely upon in transporting their finished goods.

Either way, the pallets, and components are designed to be used multiple times, bolstering the product lifecycle with increased sustainability. The pallet industry leverages its natural advantage in sustainable processes, and companies can legitimately validate forward-thinking sustainability goals and demonstrate genuine positive action for environmental concerns. The old wasteful business model is transformed into a circular system, and companies establish trust with their customer.

Conclusion

Efficient design processes focusing on reuse can lower material costs end to end. A circular-designed product doesn’t have a single lifecycle but rather several. The overarching concept is to battle climate change by reimagining how products reach consumers, starting at the design level. The four principles of circular design provide guidance, but it’s incumbent upon business leaders to commit to the new paradigm.

What is Cap and Trade?

The wooden pallet and container industry has been promoting the use of wood as an economical and sustainable solution for businesses and their supply chains for years. Our business model is built on recyclable and reusable packaging solutions so that customers can have faith and hard data in the implementation of their sustainability initiatives.

As climate change and greenhouse gas emissions have taken a more prominent place in consumer concerns, governments are implementing new programs and models to incentivize industries to cut emissions that have a detrimental impact on climate and populations around the world. One of the most successful models to accomplish these goals has been “Cap and Trade”.

In this Nature’s Packaging post, we’ll take a quick dive into cap and trade to learn more about it.

What is Cap and Trade?

In order to combat climate change, governments have employed a variety of methods. One such method is cap and trade. Cap and trade is a system in which the government places a limit, or cap, on the amount of pollution that companies can emit. This system would place a limit on greenhouse gas emissions and allow companies to buy and sell allowances for these emissions.

The goal of this system is to reduce emissions gradually over time while giving companies flexibility in how they meet the caps. Companies that exceed their allotted amount must purchase allowances from other companies that have not used up their allotment.

This market-based approach provides an incentive for companies to pollute less, as they can then sell their allowances to other companies. The overall goal of cap and trade is to reduce pollution by setting a limit on emissions and creating a market for buying and selling emissions allowances.

Critics of cap and trade argue that it will lead to higher energy prices and place a burden on businesses. They also argue that it is unfair because it allows some companies to emit more greenhouse gases than others. Supporters of cap and trade argue that it is necessary in order to combat climate change and that it will create incentives for businesses to develop cleaner technologies and implement sustainability processes.

A Short History of Cap And Trade

In the United States, the first mandatory cap-and-trade program was established by the Acid Rain Program of 1990. The program was designed to reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions that were causing acid rain. The program was successful in reducing emissions and provided a model for future cap-and-trade programs. According to the EPA, the program was a “pioneering effort” that helped the United States meet its Kyoto Protocol commitment.

In 2012, the Obama administration implemented a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas emissions. The program placed a limit on the amount of carbon dioxide that could be emitted by power plants and other large emitters.

The goal of the program was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17% by 2020. However, the program was never fully implemented, and was eventually replaced by other climate change policies.

Despite its challenges, cap and trade remains one of the most popular mechanisms for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. California’s current cap and trade system has been in place for a number of years and is see as a model for future use at a broader level.

How Does Cap and Trade Work?

In order to understand how cap and trade works, it is important to first understand what it is. Cap and trade is a system that was created in order to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The way it works is by setting a limit, or cap, on the amount of emissions that a company or country can produce. If they exceed this limit, they must purchase credits from others who have not reached their limit. This provides an incentive for companies to reduce their emissions, as they can then sell their credits to others.

The cap and trade system has been used in the United States since 2009, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched the program in an effort to combat climate change. The program has been successful in reducing emissions, but there are still some critics who argue that it does not do enough to address the problem.

The Pros and Cons of Cap and Trade

The cap-and-trade system is a market-based approach to controlling pollution by providing economic incentives for achieving reductions in the emissions of pollutants.

The pros of this system are that it provides a financial incentive for companies to reduce their emissions, and it allows companies to trade emissions allowances with each other. This flexibility means that companies can choose the most cost-effective way to meet their emission reduction targets.

The cons of cap-and-trade are that some argue it may not lead to the level of emission reductions needed to combat climate change, and it could create windfall profits for companies that have already made investments in clean technology.

The Future of Cap and Trade

As the world continues to face the reality of climate change, many countries, industries, and companies are searching for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and implement sustainability into their processes.

The pallet industry continues to explore new areas of their business models to determine where recycling and reuse can fit into a system that rewards lowering greenhouse gas emissions and the ability to sequester carbon.

While we have witnessed the voluntary carbon market slowly rise and gather momentum. It remains relatively misunderstood and somewhat of a black box in terms of value and efficacy.

In the near future, if the pallet industry is able to link custody of certain parts of the sequestration process to recycling that generates a monetary return. Industries and companies will beat a path to the doors faster than you can say, “Wood Is Good”.

Some Great Resources to Explore

Calmatters – The Basics of Cap and Trade

Environmental Defense Fund – How Cap and Trade Works

Cap and Trade – Pros and Cons

 

The Forests of Gabon

Forest products play a crucial role in many countries and their available resources. In the African nation of Gabon, forest products are pointing the way forward in a country that finds itself winding down its oil production and needing to find alternate sources of investment and resources.

NP readers know that we at Nature’s Packaging support sustainably sourced wood from sustainably managed forests. Wood is a multifaceted medium that is utilized in everything from buildings (mass timber), to furniture, to the wooden pallet and crate.

The government of this small African nation understand that their forests are an opportunity to open new markets and create jobs for its citizens.

Join Nature’s Packaging as we take look how the country is working to balance its need for new revenue and to sustainably manage its abundant forest land.

The Eden of Africa

Known as the “Eden of Africa”, the nation of Gabon is rich with forestland (it covers about 90% of the country) and has one of the largest elephant herds in the world.  For decades though, it has relied on its oil production to fuel the economy. The oil producing sector has shielded the country’s economy from the larger fluctuations in Africa’s overall economic woes at various times in history.

However, as their calculated oil reserves begin to dwindle the government has turned to its forests to make the transition from oil as its main economic driver to a diversity of forest products. The challenge is to balance the need to extract these resources with the preservation of its precious forests and the climate change conditions happening around the world.

To maintain that balance, Gabonese officials have implemented strict rules regarding logging that keeps the majority trees standing and developing into old-growth timber. In fact, those strict rules limit logging to two trees per hectare every 25 years. Additionally, to combat illegal logging they have developed a program to track logs via bar code markings.

In the past, Gabon exported the majority of its raw timber product to other countries for them to finish. That has changed through government legislation that forbid selling the raw materials directly to other countries (France was a big customer). Now, the government is working to create industrial economic zones that provide tax breaks and other incentives to have businesses build factories and facilities that provide finished forest products right on their own. These include:

  • Furniture
  • Plywood products
  • Veneers from exotic tree species

To assess the interior forestland and track toward sustainable management of such a large area, Gabon officials built a satellite research station to track and create a database of the areas most degraded from industrial activity. This has led directly to a decline in illegal logging and deforestation overall. Some of the areas that were degraded previously were then re-purposed to more industrial agriculture services like palm oil.

This conservation and active sustainable management has led to a boom in the elephant population as well. In the 1990’s, the elephant population in Gabon numbered around 60,000. Now the population has grown to over 95,000. It is said that elephants are a sign of a thriving forest and certainly the elephants in Gabon are thriving.

Gabon and Forest Products

Gabon’s booming veneer business has made it the largest producer of exotic veneers in Africa. Their rich resource of exotic woods has made them a much sought after medium for crafting fine furniture and wood materials. And they are actively developing plywood manufacturing sectors through the grant of special economic zones that are located strategically close to resources and populations in need of employment.

The timber industry in Gabon is responsible for more than 30,000 jobs and this number is projected to increase as workers in the oil and gas sectors transition to forest based jobs. That 30,000 already represents about 7% of their total available workforce.

Gabon and Carbon

As the second largest reservoir of carbon sequestered through forestland (the Amazon is the largest), the burgeoning worldwide carbon credit market has created new opportunities for Gabon to utilize the natural carbon sequestration of its forest for profit in the CC market. It has sought and received carbon offset certifications from independent auditors.

Though this has not come without controversy as Gabonese officials chose to re-evaluate their credit calculation method and have since quadrupled their available carbon credits into the tens of millions of dollars. The concern is the market being flooded with these credits and thus driving down prices overall and the veracity of the credits themselves. Government officials have pointed to the initiative as a model for using new markets to fund the conservation of their forestland.

While Gabon’s story around forest products as a resource continues to play out over time. The model that they have provided to other African nations has prompted other to develop the same type of resources where available. However, the challenge becomes whether or not these other nations will adhere to principles of sustainable management of forestland and the need for economic opportunity. Time will tell.

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