Environmental Facts & Benefits on Wood Use

Wood is the only 100% renewable, recyclable and reusable product available. Using wood is good for the environment, and our industry has the tools and sound research supported by the Pallet Foundation to show the environmental benefits of using wood.

There is no other commonly-used building material that requires so little energy to produce as wood. Thanks to photosynthesis, trees are able to use an abundant natural resource (i.e. the sun) as it captures CO2 in the air, combine it with water these plants get from the soil to produce an amazing organic material, wood. The planet benefits when wood is chosen for oil-based products. It doesn’t take oil to grow a tree.

“The reusable nature of wooden pallets makes them a more circular, sustainable form of reusable packaging, and with this EPD, manufacturers will be able to communicate the impacts of their products with more transparency and confidence.” Alberto Uggetti, vice president & general manager of UL’s environment and sustainability division, commenting on the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for Wooden Pallets.

Related Projects

Research on the environmental benefits of using wood is provided below. We hope you share these resources and fun facts with your customers and colleagues:

  • Wood packaging is Nature’s Packaging®, an ongoing program to educate the procurement and packaging professionals about the sustainability of wood packaging. The website provides tools and answers to the most pressing questions about wood products and manufacturing on the economy and the environment.
  • Environmental Product Declaration: When considering its life cycle, wooden pallets can have a potential net carbon positive impact. Through the unique properties of wood, carbon offsets may be achieved by reusing pallet materials and substituting wood fuel from pallet waste (e.g., unusable pallets) for natural gas. (U.S. Forest Products Lab, UL).
  • Landfill Avoidance: Nearly ninety-five percent of wooden pallets are recycled. The study shows that the increased environmental awareness of companies and the emerging zero-landfill policies, which prevent companies from sending packaging materials to landfills, are making a difference. (Virginia Tech, March 2018)
  • Wood Packaging Supports Healthy Communities: Video production with leading forest conservation organizations talking about the important connection of the wood packaging sector to healthy forests and healthy communities. Commentary from Tom Martin, President and CEO, American Forest Foundation; Larry Selzer, President & CEO, The Conservation Fund; Jay Farrell, Executive Director, National Association of State Foresters; Carlton Owen, President and CEO, U.S. Endowment for Forestry & Communities; and Vicki Christiansen, Chief, U.S. Forest Service.
  • Big Win for the Environment: Pallets to Pellet Fuel: The Environmental Protection Agency signed into regulation language that opens the path for wood pallet residuals to be sold as wood pellet fuel. With the passage of this revised regulation, the wooden pallet industry can maintain and grow its recycling rate even further (March 2020)
  • Wooden Pallets Achieve USDA BioPreferred Certification: Manufacturers that license the Pallet Design System are listed in the USDA BioPreferred Catalog. The USDA Biobased product label empowers consumers and purchasing contractors to readily identify products with verified biobased content. The NWPCA is proud to achieve this certification for PDS users.
  • Material efficiency in pallet design is good for the environment. Software programs, such as the Pallet Design System™, help companies design wooden pallets to meet all performance and safety requirements without unnecessary wood waste. This ensures that goods continue to move worldwide in the most sustainable way.

Research and Grants

The Pallet Foundation supports projects that will contribute to the improvement of the wood packaging industry. Our goal is to invest in sound research relevant to the most pressing questions and compelling opportunities in one of these areas: market information, environmental impact, scientific advancements, and others that help advance the sector.

To learn more about obtaining funding for a research project, click here to apply for a grant.

“Our industry has a great story to tell about the wonderful benefits of using wood as a packaging material. Natures Packaging is one of those voices. With the added support of NWPCA, CWPCA, and the WPA, our successes result from this collaboration. We are stronger when we all work together.”
Bob Wenner, President, Pallet Service Corporation