Sustainability – Are forests still green gold?

12 tammikuun, 2021

Forests are the green gold of Finland. We have heard this mantra ad nauseam. And it’s hard to believe during declining demand of paper and as factories are being closed. But all hope is not yet lost.

Currently over 50 % waste

Wood as a material has a lot more to offer than just paper and cardboard. Traditional pulp & paper industry only uses cellulose as its raw material which comprises only 30–50 % of a tree. The rest of the materials are considered as waste. Actually, the main output of a pulp mill is carbon dioxide, not paper pulp. 

More ingredients than just cellulose

As we all remember from school, trees consist of cellulose (30–50 %), hemicellulose (20–35 %), lignin (20–30 %), resin and minerals. All these materials can (and hopefully will) be used to create sustainable substitutes for current alternatives. Even the carbon dioxide from the facilities can be used to make fuels as I mentioned in my earlier blog

Many possible uses

Cellulose as such is soon used to replace resource intensive cotton in the clothing industry. Hemicellulose can be used to replace plastic films in packages or used as an emulsifier (mixes water and oil together) in food and cosmetic industries. Lignin has uses in paints and glues and it can replace polymers in carbon fiber. Resin’s antibacterial properties interest medicine in this pandemic-ridden world. 

More than a material

So, wood has a lot more to offer than just lumber and paper. By investing in R&D, forests remain as the green gold of Finland. And they are more than just raw material for the industry. Forests have intrinsic value as such, preserve biodiversity and offer experiences for people. They are a second home to at least some of us. We at TT Gaskets consider it as one of our homes by offering Smarter Sealing for a Safer Future to the forest industry.