Could Plastic Packaging Someday be Replaced by Wood-Based Products?

With both wildfires and petroleum-based plastics currently affecting life on earth and significantly adding to greenhouse gas emissions, the US Forest Service’s Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) is invested in one solution for both by developing recyclable: next generation packing materials made from wood.

The Forest Service has been developing sustainable packaging solutions from wood for over 100 years, starting with wooden crates from WWI munitions. This year, with partners at University of Wisconsin-Madison and Michigan State University, FPL researchers will holistically use the low-grade timber from western forests to create prototype packaging products that could one day become an equivalent alternative to current plastic packaging.

The FPL points out that compared with only 9% of plastic products being recycled worldwide, 68% of paper products are recycled. An increase in bio-based packaging products would make a significant and positive impact on an environment already straining under the load of petroleum-based plastics.

The revolutionary packaging would be made from wood pulp from small-diameter logs, treetops, and branches that are left after hazardous fuel reduction treatments. This biomass is usually burned or left to decompose. However, small-scale mills could be constructed and operated to reuse these materials to create sustainable packaging.

FEA compiles the Wood Markets News from various 3rd party sources to provide readers with the latest news impacting forest product markets. Opinions or views expressed in these articles do not necessarily represent those of FEA.