The Road Ahead

While the cost of industrial materials in the United States continues to climb, one material — wood — remains a smart investment for the savvy professional. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over the past four years, prices for plastic resins and materials are up 51 percent, fabricated steel is up 49 percent, aluminum is up 38 percent, and corrugated containers are up 24 percent. Wood products on the other hand have declined six percent.

“Performance Panels continue to be a great value, especially in industrial applications where end users face the dilemma of higher costs and in some cases product scarcity,” said Dennis Hardman, president of APA — The Engineered Wood Association, Tacoma WA.

The market for structural wood products benefit from a large domestic production and distribution network.

“Performance Panels are ideally suited for furniture, pallets, signs, containers, reels and mezzanine floors,” said Hardman. Structural plywood, OSB, are excellent values, Hardman said, because of their numerous performance advantages, including strength and stiffness (pound for pound wood is stronger than steel), phytosanitary and formaldehyde exemptions, high impact resistance, workability, and proven durability in all kinds of climates.

Another important consideration that deserves greater weight in environmental debates, Hardman said, is the long-term effects of raw material extraction and manufacture.

“If we view the full life-cycle from cradle to grave, wood products have no equal,” said Hardman. North American forest growth continues to exceed timber harvests by a wide margin. Technological advances have increased the industrial output per unit of wood 40 percent in the past 50 years. Hardman also pointed out that wood products are the only renewable, recyclable industrial material and compare favorably with non-wood products based on such environmental criteria as embodied energy and emissions of carbon dioxide.

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