How is Plywood Sustainable?

With all the different types of building materials available nowadays, it can be daunting to select the right material for your construction or carpentry project. This raises the question, is plywood sustainable? More consumers are considering the sustainability of their building materials when weighing up the options available to them.

Our team at Cabinet Timbers will be drawing from their extensive knowledge of our plywood panels to answer whether is plywood sustainable once and for all. Stick with us as we delve deep into plywood sustainability and everything that manufacturers must consider when building eco-friendly plywood panels for the eco-conscious consumer.

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The Three Core Pillars of Plywood Sustainability

Generally speaking, plywood can be called a sustainable building and construction material for three key reasons:

  1. It’s made from sustainably sourced local timber materials.
  2. It’s constructed using sustainable manufacturing processes.
  3. It’s treated using sustainable treatment processes.

Knowing how plywood is made can help you determine just how eco-friendly your plywood panels are and properly addresses your overarching question, is plywood sustainable?

We’ll be breaking down these three core pillars of plywood sustainability below so you can shop for sustainable plywood panels with the utmost confidence.

1. Is Your Plywood Made Fom Sustainably Sourced Local Timber Materials?

Considering how many Australian homes are constructed using imported materials, it goes without saying that travel emissions play a major role in determining the sustainability of your building project. Thankfully, a great majority of our plywood panels on offer here at Cabinet Timbers are made using locally sourced timber. This helps to ensure that our plywood goes directly to you from our suppliers with minimal CO2 emissions generated along the way.

is plywood sustainable
how is plywwod sustainable

2. Is Your Plywood Constructed Using Sustainable Manufacturing Processes?

On top of this, plywood can be made even more sustainable by utilising eco-friendly manufacturing processes. As plywood is made using a selection of natural cutting, cleaning, drying and painting processes, it’s easy enough to maintain eco-friendly manufacturing methods.

Some timber mills go one step further here by reusing timber waste to power their furnaces. This helps to ensure that their plywood manufacturing process maintains a closed production loop.

is plywood sustainable

3. Is Your Plywood Treated Using Sustainable Treatment Process?

And then there’s the matter of treating plywood once your wood veneers have been produced. Plywood manufacturers have a few options here: they can use Type A glue sealants which are typically comprised of phenol-based formaldehyde resins, Type B glue sealants that use a melamine-urea-formaldehyde (or ‘MUF’) glue, or Type C and D glue sealants that use a urea-formaldehyde (or ‘UF’) glue.

Of these glue sealant types, Type A glues are least likely to produce formaldehyde emissions thanks to their higher amount of phenolics. In other words, higher-quality plywood panels that boast Type A glue sealants are the best option for consumers who are looking to buy sustainable plywood. As external grade plywood uses Type A glue sealants to ensure water resistance, these plywood panels are also considered to be sustainable.

So long as your plywood materials uphold these three core pillars of plywood sustainability, you can rest assured that your next plywood project maintains a minimal carbon footprint.

Is Plywood More Sustainable Than Solid Timber?

At this point, you may be wondering if is plywood sustainable, more than solid timber. Given that plywood is a wood composite material, it does tick a lot of the same boxes as raw timber when it comes to sustainability. The only difference is that the process of treating plywood naturally requires more energy than simply packaging solid wood to be sold on the market. 

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that plywood is treated to ensure its durability or longevity. In this regard, plywood materials are stronger than solid wood materials, and will thus be more likely to maintain a longer usable lifespan. Because of this, it can be argued that plywood is more sustainable in comparison to solid wood, as you can rely on your plywood walls, ceilings, and furnishings to last longer than their raw timber counterparts.

Is Plywood Sustainable or Better Yet More Recyclable?

All in all, it’s safe to say that plywood can be manufactured sustainably. But can it be disposed of sustainably? After all, solid wood materials are biodegradable. Whilst plywood is also technically made of raw timber, it sadly isn’t biodegradable due to the formaldehyde resin bonds that hold plywood together.

So no, plywood is not biodegradable. But it is recyclable. You can repurpose your used plywood for a wide range of other applications, spanning from furniture production to cladding.

If you’re looking to recycle plywood, then be sure to check out the Environmental Protection Authority of Victoria’s guide on disposing of treated timber.

Why Shop for Sustainable Plywood at Cabinet Timbers?

At Cabinet Timbers, we’re passionate about making a positive mark on Australia’s materials sector. We also believe that our most valued asset is our unique Australian landscape and all of its natural resources. 

That’s precisely why all the plywood panels that we have on offer are sourced from sustainably managed forests. Both of our plywood manufacturers at Austral Plywoods and CarterHoltHarvey pride themselves on producing some of Australia’s highest quality plywood materials that adhere to Australian Standards and meet all the requirements of the Responsible Wood environmental scheme.

Have any questions about our range of materials and plywood sustainability? Then simply contact our team by filling in our web enquiry form or giving us a call at (03) 8353 2222.

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