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Plywood a versatile packaging material

What makes plywood a versatile packaging material for sustainable supply chains?

Today, companies are not only looking at how to reduce their costs, but also their environmental footprint across the entire supply chain.

Designing high quality packaging with end-of-life in mind while saving financial and environmental resources is no longer just a trend; it is a necessity to remain competitive.

Governments around the globe have been promoting wood-based products over the past few decades to meet climate mitigation targets. Wood-based plywood packaging has been rapidly gaining traction and the market is projected to grow at 4.57% CAGR by 2032 (Future Market Insights). Plywood is made from thin sheets of natural wood, which, if harvested and managed properly, is a renewable and eco-friendly resource. Designed with the global supply chain in mind, it provides unparalleled shipping bearing strength and durability at a surprisingly low cost.

Follow along as the main benefits of plywood-based packaging design are discussed.

Designed to last

This environmentally friendly packaging not only helps to protect the planet but also the packed products against difficult transport conditions, long-term storage, and climate conditions. Plywood has a higher strength to weight ratio than solid wood. It is made from thin layers of wood sheets with the grain direction of each piece glued and laid perpendicularly to build up desired thickness making it strong yet lightweight. The solid structure enables stacking abilities both in transit and warehousing without the risk of damages, while the low weight creates a cost-effective solution that is suitable for air, road, and rail transport. When combined with a steel profile, it creates a rigid, durable, yet lightweight solution that is ideal for both expendable and returnable packaging solutions while also meeting UN certification requirements for Dangerous Goods packaging.

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Designed to adapt

Another great benefit of plywood is its potential for customization. By combining different types of plywood, such as hardwood, softwood, or the blend of both, the material can be easily adjusted to the product and its journey. Depending on the application – whether the product is heavy, bulky, and needing long-term protection, or it is light and shipping one-way, it can be tailored to accommodate the supply chain needs. Even the type of glue used for laminating the layers of plywood can be customized depending on the climate conditions it is expected to withstand. Additionally, the high-quality material ensures a clean, professional look, and allows vibrant printing to promote customer brand.

Designed to save resources

Last, but not least, plywood is made from trees - a renewable resource that, when properly managed through the process of growing and harvesting – is a sustainable material. While a growing number of companies are focusing on ethical sourcing of raw materials from verified, sustainably managed forests to mitigate the consequences of utilizing finite natural resources, many governments across the globe are looking into it as an effective way to reduce packaging waste. In 2019, for instance, the European Union set out guidelines to ensure that all packaging available on the market will be reusable or recyclable by 2030. Plywood packaging is answering this call by putting the end-of-the-life concept into practice. Once it cannot be used for shipping anymore, plywood and steel packaging can be sent for recycling where it goes through a grinder and a magnet separates the steel from the plywood. The steel is then melted down for repurposing, and the plywood can be used for example as a heating material.

Designed for sustainable supply chains

In a global supply chain, it is not unusual that a product is shipped from one side of the globe to the other, passing through many checkpoints along the way. Therefore, to reduce the risk of introduction and spread of pests, which have a negative impact on biodiversity, raw wood packaging in international trade must be treated prior to shipping. However, those phytosanitary standards (ISPM-15) set by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization do not apply to processed wood such as plywood. This makes it an inherently export-compliant packaging, either as one-way solution or in a returnable flow.

According to EPA, in 2020 the transportation sector was responsible for 27% of greenhouse gas emissions. Optimizing the load space and subsequently decreasing the number of trucks on the road is crucial to bring those percentages down. Plywood-based packaging takes less space and is lighter compared to solid wood-based packaging, which allows for more efficient logistical planning across the entire supply chain.

At Nefab, with a continuous focus on eco-friendly materials, we are finding new ways to achieve greater sustainability in our solutions and smarter ways to reduce the environmental impact. Together, we can pave the way for a future with less packaging waste for our customers, for society, and the environment.

We save resources in supply chains, for a better tomorrow. 


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