Wood is a renewable material that contributes to sustainable development because its transformation, based mainly on renewable energy, requires less energy than other materials.
Wood has the lowest environmental impact indicators; in fact the environmental balance of the life cycle of the containers, packaging, and wood pallets, from the time that they are manufactured to the point they are recycled, is more advantageous than other materials, according to several studies.
Using wood has an immediate environmental benefit.
Most forests are the result of people using their resources for centuries. 70% of forests are "semi-natural" and organised by man, which promotes growth and prevents them becoming deteriorated. The surface of the forest grows through increased sustainable forest management.
Forests provide us with many benefits and have a great economic value. They benefit the environment; they renew the atmosphere, act as CO2 sinks, regulate the water cycle, keep the soil fertile, and support numerous species. A young growing forest absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere more efficiently.
Some woods used in the manufacture of containers and packaging come from crops that offer similar environmental advantages, such as poplar, used to make plywood, which is found in many containers and packaging.
Wooden containers, packaging, and pallets not only emit less CO2 during their life cycle (manufacture, use, and recycling), but they store CO2 in themselves which the tree captured from the atmosphere during photosynthesis, and which will not return to the atmosphere unless the material is burned.
To produce one cubic metre of wood, a young growing tree can absorb up a ton of CO2, releasing 0.7 tons of oxygen into the atmosphere. It is estimated that Spanish forests alone capture 19% of CO2 emissions in Europe.
Wood waste is also an ideal substitute for fossil fuels, as it returns the same amount of CO2 to the atmosphere as was absorbed by the tree when it was growing. Furthermore, burning wood produces less sulphur or nitrogen, which are responsible for acid rain.
Wood packaging is easily recycled by pressing, crushing, and use as a raw material in other products such as chipboard, briquettes, animal bedding, compost, sawdust, etc.
They can also be used to recover energy by replacing fossil fuels.
In Spain, 49.8% of waste from wood containers, packaing, and pallets is recycled, and 5.7% is used for energy, according to the Valuation Rate study in 2006 carried out by FEDEMCO with support from ECOEMBES.
Wood containers, packaging, and pallets are manufactured with quality standards for providing adequate protection, and they are designed taking into account work loads, transportation, storage, and handling equipment.
In containers, the natural aspect and texture of the wood, and the possibility of printing brand names on the side, helps to promote products to the consumer.
Wood is considered by European legislation to be a natural material suitable to be in contact with food. Good practice in manufacture and cleaning methods ensure than wood containers, packaging, and pallets are suitable for many applications in the food industry.
Every day, thousands of tons of fresh food produce are transported in wood containers without problems. Several studies show that wood acts against bacterial contamination; in fact, bacteria tends to disappear in wood.