Infographic: The environmental benefits of composite wood panels
Wood is better for the environment when compared to other common building materials. According to the American Forest Foundation, “steel and concrete consume 12% and 20% more energy, emit 15% and 29% more greenhouse gases… and generate 300% and 225% more water pollutants than wood, respectively.”
What these statistics don’t describe, however, are the environmental benefits from using composite wood panel products specifically.
In recent decades, the use of composite wood panels has been increasing, especially in furniture, casework and retail environments, due to their longevity and low cost. Moreover, composite panels have tremendous environmental benefits.
We made an infographic that describes some of the main “green” benefits of panels.
Panels are recycled products.
Particleboard and medium-density fiberboard (MDF) are common composite wood panels. These panels are made by combining wood fibers with resin and applying high temperature and pressure. These fibers were waste products from other operations, which makes the panels a recycled product.
Less carbon is released.
Composite panels are considered to be better than climate-neutral materials, according to the Composite Panel Association. Panels store carbon, which is released as greenhouse gases when wood is broken down by decomposition or fire. These greenhouse gases are a cause of climate change. The amount of stored carbon offsets the panels’ carbon emissions, resulting in a negative carbon footprint. Additionally, furniture made from panel products–especially when a decorative surface like HPL is applied–are very durable and last a long time.
Forests are managed responsibly.
Wood is a renewable resource, and more and more trees are planted to keep up with the demand for wood. Organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) combat deforestation by ensuring that certified forests are managed responsibly and sustainably. According to FSC, its mission is to “promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests.” Cooper Enterprises is FSC®-certified (FSC-C115184) and is part of the Chain of Custody (SCS-COC-004511).
Panels emit less formaldehyde.
Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen in the resins that make up panels. However, formaldehyde is a natural substance in our world. Certain pieces of legislation set limits to the amount of formaldehyde that can be present in composite panels. These strict regulations cause panels to have less formaldehyde than what occurs naturally in panel products. As a result, composite panels contain less formaldehyde than wood and other natural products.
Composite panels are great for many applications, as they are environmentally-friendly, and they typically cost less than hardwoods. Particleboard is used in many commercial casework and store fixture projects.
While Cooper Enterprises can machine a variety of materials, the most common substrates we use are particleboard and MDF. Interested in learning more? Visit our laminating page and view a list of our common materials.
Recommended further reading and sources:
- Wood: A good choice for energy efficiency and the environment by American Forest Foundation
- The science of sustainability: How composite wood panels measure up by Composite Panel Association
- What’s our sustainability story? ‘Waste wood made good’ by Kenn Busch via Woodworking Network
- Frequent questions for consumers about the formaldehyde standards for composite wood products act by the EPA
- What consumers need to know about CARB 2 compliance by European Cabinets & Design Studios
- Forest Stewardship Council
Disclaimer: Product mentions and links in this article do not imply endorsement; they are provided as examples and sources for further exploration.
Blog by Rachel Brumenschenkel, Marketing Specialist