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NWPCA Committee: Science & Technology
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Welcome to Science & Technology Council

Responsible for identifying needs and trends, proposing research opportunities, and overseeing research activities as defined and approved by The Pallet Foundation and NWPCA leadership. Chair: LeRoi Cochran. 

FOCUS AREAS

The Counsel has identified key areas of focus for research and development. The areas are reviewed yearly to evaluate their importance and relative level of priority. As defined on March 2017 (Values in parenthesis are the average priority position of each issue):

  1. Finding alternative uses for utilizing wood residuals (1.2)
  2. Enhanced mold mitigation strategies that are compliant with the food and pharma industries (2.7)
  3. Sanitation properties of wood pallets (2.9)
  4. A better understanding of the economic and environmental impacts of ISPM, including ‘Likelihood of Establishment’ models for wood boring insects (3.3)

Summary of NWPCA activity on each issue:

Wood Residual Utilization: The Pallet Foundation funded a study related to residual markets in the US. Major findings include: The structural decline in printing and writing papers and other end products derived from hardwood fiber. Buoyant demand for softwood fiber driven by strong pulp markets and bioenergy in the form of pellets. Renewed softwood lumber demand and announced capacity in the US South present challenges, though more for landowners than producers of residuals. Fiber constraints in the Pacific Northwest that have hindered growth and led to stagnant, but stable markets.

Mold Strategies: NWPCA Marketing Committee continues to develop a mold identifier flier. New release of FAQ Document related to mold treatments for the food and pharma industries.

Sanitation Properties: NWPCA continues to monitor this issue, but no recent activity at this time ISPM 15: No project related activity, but NWPCA continues to build relationships and seek impactful opportunities.

Current & Recent project updates

Through a strong funding linkage with The Pallet Foundation, Science & Technology has been very busy with projects over the past few years. These projects aim to fill the information gap on industry issues. The current project on EPDs seeks to answer the ultimate question of what is the environmental impact of using a wood pallet.

ENVIRONMENTAL PRODUCT DECLARATION

NWPCA is developing an environmental product declaration (EPD) for an aggregate wood pallet. This EPD will provide certifiable, transparent environmental impact information related to the use of wood pallets.

Through the outstanding effort of NWPCA members, we have now collected sufficient data to perform a life cycle assessment, which is the data that feeds the EPD. Experts from the USDA Forest Service Forest Products Lab will be crunching the numbers over the next few months, before moving on to the certification process.


LANDFILL SURVEY

NWPCA engaged with Virginia Tech to survey municipal waste and construction and demolition facilities to better understand wood pallet recycling. Preliminary results can be found here.

Key preliminary finding:

• Less than 26 million wood pallets were landfilled, representing a recycling rate of approximately 95%. This represents the highest recycling rate of any packaging material. 


INDUSTRY MARKETING SURVEY

NWPCA engaged with Virginia Tech to survey the industry on key aspects and trends. Preliminary results can be found here. A manuscript is currently being written for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. Main findings include:

• Overall industry growth of roughly 17% from 2011
• 55% to 45% softwood to hardwood usage
• Increased production of 48x40 pallets and other standardized dimensions
• Increased block pallet production (6% to 21% of manufactured pallets). 


ECONOMIC IMPACT STUDY

NWPCA partnered with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and The University of Maryland to understand the economic impact of the wooden packaging industry. The study can be found here.

Key findings include:

    • Direct or indirect impact on more than 173,000 jobs and generates an economic impact of US$31 billion.
    • Labor compensation reached $3 billion 
    • Production levels increased 4% per year from 2009-2016. 

Questions?

If you have any questions about these or any other projects, please contact NWPCA's Director of Science and Technology Integration, Dr. Brad Gething or phone: 703-519-6104 ext. 215.