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.

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.

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.

Made From Trees-Forest Products Move Markets

Every day, many of the items used in daily life were made possible by forest products industries. The type of forest products in demand the most are various types of lumber. Used to make everything from furniture to home construction to wood pallets and containers; lumber is vital to many industries.

The transportation and logistics industries use wood pallets to move nearly everything. 1.8 billion pallets are in use every day, shipping 90% of the world’s goods. 90% of those pallets are made of wood, making them some of the most important forest product-derived items in the world.

Forest Products and Processes Add Sustainability

Forest products play a major role in the supply chain. Within the subject of climate change and the impact to the environment, the supply chain is under pressure to increase sustainability and reduce carbon emissions. The forest products industry is at the forefront of harvesting and creating renewable resources and products that are reusable and recyclable.

As part of that process, modern logging practices are incorporating sustainable principles to help forests remain healthy and productive. Well-managed forests generate some of the most valuable resources for mitigating climate change and provide useful products that positively impact daily life.

Wood Packaging Logistics and the Supply Chain

Wood packaging used in the supply chain includes pallets, boxes, crates used to transport goods. Well-designed wood packaging keeps goods from being damaged during transit. When heat treated and stamp-certified according to international standards like ISPM-15, wood packaging ensures that goods move seamlessly between countries and facilitates international trade.

Wood Pallets in the Supply Chain

Wood pallets are a core component of the supply chain. Their functionality makes them easy to load and unload via forklifts and pallet jacks. Their durability helps protect items shipped and their design makes them easy to store for reuse.

Wood pallets set the standard for supply chain strength, resilience, and sustainability. 95% of wood pallets are recycled and reused multiple times throughout their lifecycle. Pallets, as a crucial link in the supply chain, are leading the way toward a circular supply chain that eliminates waste.

They are also increasingly popular with consumers for DIY projects as the public recognizes their versatility. When they do reach the end of their useful lifespan, wood pallets are often down-cycled into other useful products like mulch, wood pellet fuel or craft wood.

A current challenge for wood pallets in the supply chain is availability. A consistent supply of quality pallets has always been in demand. When the pandemic hit, so did a broad increase in products shipped via e-commerce. As shipping has rebounded from those initial lock-downs, demand for pallets has exceeded supply.

At the same time, delays in other parts of the supply chain were causing the price of lumber to increase. Industries that use pallets to ship products began to appreciate the wood pallet as a principal component of a stable supply chain.

Forest Products-Above and Beyond

A relatively new arrival in the world of sustainable forest products is mass timber. Mass timber is an engineered product made up of multiple pieces and layers of wood sandwiched together. The result is an incredibly strong and resilient building material that is used in the construction of large buildings that were once built with steel or concrete alone. Mass timber technology is being used to build in Canada and Europe, and is now beginning to launch significantly in U.S. building construction.

Wood Fuel Powering Industry

Burning wood for fuel is nothing new. But the processes used for this age-old forest product are changing. Rather than using traditional firewood for heat in homes, people are turning to pellet stoves.

The pellets used in these stoves are commonly made from compressing wood byproducts that would otherwise go to waste. Wood pellets contain very little water, making them light and easy to handle and transport. They burn hot and clean and are considered to be carbon neutral.

The same pellets can be used to produce steam and electricity.

Biomass consisting of wood and plant products is finding a place as a clean energy option. It can be burned directly or processed into gas or liquid fuels. While not as clean as solar or wind energy, it is vastly cleaner than fossil fuel use and is renewable.

Residential buildings and industries are turning to biomass and other renewable sources for their energy needs.

Forest products surround us in our everyday lives. Renewable forestry practices have created an industry that leads the way in a world rightly focused on sustainability and net zero carbon emissions.

Wood On The Web: 5 Great Resources for You

The world wide web has delivered easily accessible resources for nearly every industry. What was once available only in classrooms, libraries, or laboratories can now be found with the click of a mouse.

Online forestry and forest products data and information is available for readers to learn about progress in forestry, research, forest products, environmental advocacy, and economic advancement.

At Nature’s Packaging, we strive to bring you interesting and useful resources on the web and here are five great forestry and forest products website resources for you. There’s something here for everyone from the curious consumer to the industry professional.

The Penn State Extension-Wood Products

The Penn State Extension offers a variety of online learning resources, including courses, articles, videos, and webinars. It also features in-person conferences and workshops.

The extension has 11 overarching areas of study, including food safety, business and operations, community development, animals and livestock, and forests and wildlife. It’s in this last section where students and learners of all ages will find a treasure trove of forest products information.

From urban forestry to maple syrup, this site covers a lot of ground. The Wood Products section is filled with information ranging from the basics of lumber to research on insects.

The Penn Extension site has something for everyone interested in wood products. From builders to landowners, students to casual enthusiasts, and newbies to experienced members of the forest products industry.

The site is easy to navigate, with efficient and effective content filters. You can browse by educational format, author or instructor, or date posted. This is a terrific general knowledge site that promotes an understanding of the many layers of the wood products industry.

International Society of Wood Science and Technology

The International Society of Wood Science and Technology is a non-profit, international professional organization. Members have access to conventions, international meetings, scientific missions, publications, and more.

Their website offers teaching units and other educational materials, accreditation information for Wood Science and Technology Programs, and access to recent issues of their publications.

Members have access to the full archives. They offer reduced-price student memberships as well as regular memberships. One of the greatest things about this organization, and its website, is the Short Term Scientific Mission.

Members are eligible to apply for these special research grants. They are used to send individuals into the world to collaborate and research away from their home base.

What’s special about the website is that anyone can see previous projects completed with STSM grants. Articles and videos discuss project goals and outcomes achieved during the visiting researcher’s stay.

Think Wood

Builders, contractors, and architects are the audience for the Think Wood website. This is a beautiful site that will appeal to the design eye of these professionals. Think Wood partners with industry groups to provide education and inspiration around advances in wood products.

The site offers articles, videos, and infographics without cost. They aim to provide the resources their audience needs to benefit from building with wood.

Topics range from forest management and carbon sequestration to meeting building and fire safety codes. They even offer continuing education courses.

While it’s designed for building professionals, this site is very accessible. It has a lot of information about sustainable forestry and proactive steps to reduce the carbon footprints of all sorts of projects. It’s also a great place to learn the basics of mass timber.

Think Wood excels at the visual. The site has incredible pictures of wood projects in all stages of completion. Their project gallery is filled with stunning photos accompanied by a lot of great information.

Inspiration is where Think Wood excels.

ForestProud

ForestProud is all about climate solutions. The Society of American Foresters recently merged with the #forestproud project to create a community that supports and promotes climate action in our forests.

The site is full of articles that link forest management with real-world positive outcomes. They talk about mass timber and urban renewal. They discuss biomass, wildfires, and carbon credits.

All of this information could be overwhelming. But it’s well-organized and helps visitors focus on connecting with forests as a climate solution.

This is a “finger on the pulse” website. It encourages community members to send in selfies wearing their branded t-shirts or with their stickers.

It links visitors to videos about sustainable forests and forest resources. It offers articles to educate. It even gives suggestions for relevant podcasts. This group has a social media presence and knows how to use it to further its cause.

ForestProud is a very accessible website. It’s welcoming and warm. Visitors can browse and learn, or they can choose to interact. It’s a well-conceived initiative to promote forest management and climate action.

National Wooden Pallet and Container Association

The National Wooden Pallet and Container Association is a professional non-profit association that supports the wood packaging industry. Its website is filled with information for both professionals and curious web surfers alike.

As industry advocates, the association offers networking, educational opportunities, and specialized software tools for pallet design. Members can register for events and find the latest industry news.

They also use their website to serve as the voice of the unsung hero of the supply chain: the wood pallet. Both members and non-members can access issues of the organization’s Pallet Central magazine right on the site.

The NWPCA site is designed for industry professionals. But there is a lot of information about sustainability for the general public as well.

Favorite Web Resources

These five websites are an excellent place to start for anyone interested in forestry and forest products. The key is to build a network of websites that adds and advances your knowledge of the industry.

Do you have a favorite wood related website to share? Join us on our LinkedIn page and comment on the websites in the forestry and forest products niche that you like.

 

Forest Products Marketing Unit

Marketing Forest Products

For over 100 years, the Forest Products Laboratory has been at the forefront of optimized forestry. Their research, which started with the preservation of railroad ties, now spans hundreds of areas.

They develop technologies for wood products to maximize their economic potential. Their research is also key to combating deforestation and climate change while making the most of every harvested tree.

The Forest Products Laboratory does not exist in a vacuum. Its research is meant to be shared and used throughout the industry. Wise and efficient use of forest products results in healthy, sustainable forests and widespread economic opportunity.

Purpose

So why do they need a marketing unit? Marketing for FPL isn’t about advertising or image management. The U.S. Forest Products Marketing Unit (FPMU) is about establishing relationships with public and private entities.

These partnerships allow the research done at the FPL to benefit the forest products industry, the public, and the environment.

Organizing the distribution of information, innovation, and technology to the vast and complex forestry and forest products industries is no small task. But without these efforts, the FPL’s exhaustive research would be widely under-used and its technologies would go largely un-implemented.

The FPMU helps share and assist in the use of beneficial forest product practices across the country. With the help of federal funding, they pursue initiatives to promote smarter, better forest products, and processes.

History

Begun in 1992 and expanded in 1996, a formal relationship was established between the FPL and the forestry industry. To transfer research and technology from the lab to the outside world, the new joint Technology Marketing Unit had an ambitious goal. They would create a national framework that balanced the environmental and economic use of the nation’s forests.

That meant establishing strong cooperative partnerships with state and private industry leaders. The research and development being done at the FPL needed an organized way to reach the entities it could most benefit.

The new unit reached out to other technology marketers and diverse public and private forestry organizations to create a team. This team was dedicated to planning projects, identifying customer needs, and implementing technology to meet those needs.

When the 1996 agreement was written, a primary goal was to administer woody biomass grants. The focus of this program was using wood for energy.

In the years since its formal founding, the FPMU has expanded in scope. Their cooperative projects now include initiatives from nanotechnology to the reduction of the size and rate of forest fires.

Objectives

The FPMU has a set of objectives that cover a lot of ground. They focus on new and existing partnerships, coordination of services, and bringing the experts at the FPL to outside institutions.

For the FPL to have the greatest impact, it needs a strong core of cooperation among a large number of external entities. The FPMU establishes, grows, and maintains that vital core to extend the reach of the FPL.

The overarching objective of the Forest Products Marketing Unit is to provide coordination and assistance on a national level. This collaborative commitment is designed to maximize the economic and environmental use of FPL research and technologies.

Current objectives include incentives for increased use of biomass, accelerating reforestation, market creation, technical assistance, administration of grant programs, and more.

Managing resources nationally is a complex task. Focusing on innovative marketing and technological advances, the FPMU extends opportunities for forest product use and management across urban and rural landscapes.

Governance

The governance of the Forest Product Marketing Unit is a little bit complicated. The national scope and coordination with other entities make program direction and oversight key to its success.

Here’s a top-down look at the basic governing structure:

  • The Forest Products Laboratory Director serves as the overall program director. They provide direction for the FPMU to achieve its yearly goals.
  • Forest Service Deputy Chiefs provide broad oversight of the FPMU. They are also tasked with the important job of approving major planning elements for the FPMU. These elements include the Implementation Plan, the yearly Plan of Work, and the yearly operating budget.
  • FPMU staff includes a program manager, forest products technologist, natural resource specialist, research forest product technologist, research forester, partnership coordinator, IT specialist, and program support. This group is tasked with the day-to-day implementation of projects and programs.

This small but mighty team allows the FPL to work at a national level to guide both efficient economic use of all forest products and conserve and promote healthy forests.

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