Is plywood bad for the environment?


Plywoods can have bad impacts on the environment.

Regardless of the pollution types, water pollution, air pollution, as well as noise pollution.

For all these environmental conditions, the manufacturing of plywood is harmful.

Manufacturing plywoods requires certain chemicals, urea-formaldehyde for example, which when dried emits poisonous particles to pollute surrounding air and water.

Also, the plywood industries add carbonic footprints to the environment because of fuel consumption. Not to mention, the waste chemical can pollute soil and water.

Reasons why plywood industries are bad for the environment. 

Plywoods are engineered wood, which means they need to go through some kind of process to get ready to use. Each step that the material needs to be manufactured can be the reason for impacting the environment’s health.

The steps, as well as reasons, are mentioned below.

  • 1. Adhesive Chemicals-

One of the most obvious reasons why plywoods are bad is because of the excessive use of adhesives such as urea-formaldehyde and phenolic resin.

  • 2. Sawing wood

Because plywood is made of layering up timbers, so a lot of wood dust goes to waste in an effort to get a usable block of wood.

  • 3. Process of drying wood-

At the point when manufacturing plywoods the wood timber is to be dried before putting it into the machine.

So a lot of moisture extract out that is also a waste when thrown either in water or in on land it pollutes the surface.

  • 4. Hydrocarbon and particulate pollution from generators-

There are a lot of machines needed to make plywoods. From cutting timber to drying, and producing adhesives to applying glues.

You can guess at each point, a machine is needed to get the job done.

Considering the fact that machines require fuel to run, a lot of polluted air mixes with surrounding fresh air, thus causing pollution.

Impacts on lifecycle: 

In addition to environmental impacts caused at the site of manufacturing, manufacture, and use of plywood also cause environmental impacts elsewhere.

A lifecycle analysis of plywood is presented here.

Plywood industries have the following life cycle impacts:

When timbers used for manufacturing are obtained using destructive practices.

It can impact deforestation which is something that affects the most on the lifecycle.

Although softwood can be harvested in an environmentally friendly way, plywood has been implicated in deforestation in tropical countries as one of the causes.

Due to the higher demands of plywoods the soil degradation impact is greatly triggered by now.

It is the removal of the tree cover that impacts during timber harvesting, whether as part of a sustainable harvest or otherwise. Because harvesting trees too much will lead to topsoil erosion.

These days In tropical countries, topsoil loss is one of the main causes of lower productivity.

Plywood industries are adding too many carbonic footprints in the air.

Because the fact is, over the past years carpenters didn’t have to cook timber to make them useful as it happens now with plywoods.

A large quantity of fuel is used in the factories and impacts the life cycle. 

Which type of pollution do plywoods produce?

If we further divide the term environment we will come to know that there are two categories involved.

  • Onsite: As the name implies, onsite impacts are those experienced at the manufacturing location. The impacts are related to burning fuel, use of chemicals, and noise. 

Plywood industry air pollutants to be concerned with.

The factors on which we can say the plywood industry is not environmentally friendlyBecausenon-recyclable-usable.

Wood dust

Sawdust generated from wood processing and exploitation is one of the most common forms of waste. which is stored in uncontrolled circumstances and may contribute to environmental contamination. 

Nonetheless, such energy sources will result in pollutant emissions with adverse impacts on the environment and biological systems.

Here is a researched-based article on this interesting topic for you if you are willing to know key factors.

Diesel Range Hydrocarbons

Petroleum hydrocarbon pollution is extremely dangerous to the ecosystem and living-being.

With that said, both humans and plants are victims of this environmental pollution.

There are ways to avoid this serious damage.

Many physical and chemical techniques are tested to counter the problem, but they are costly and most of the methods produce negative side effects.

When fuels are burned, carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere.

CO2 is an unavoidable byproduct of hydrocarbon combustion, unlike the emissions from fossil fuel combustion.

You can get into this debate here:


The two most commonly used adhesives in plywoods, formaldehyde, and phenolic resins are to be concerned with pollution.

Formaldehyde is used in about 70% of plywoods, whereas phenolic resin is mostly used in high-grade waterproof plywoods such as marine plywood.


The way that formaldehyde pollutes the environment is that it has the ability to react with air and form formic acid and carbon monoxide, which are both extremely dangerous as well for aquatic life it’s even dangerous to be thrown into the water as it can be the reason for the death of water-living such as shellfish, fishes, turtles, and other living beings.

Phenolic resins-

Compared to formaldehyde, it is less toxic.

Nevertheless, because phenol is a component of phenolic compounds, they are among the compounds to be concerned about because they tend to remain in the environment for long periods, accumulate, and have harmful effects on humans and animals.

Water pollution from plywood industry:

Water pollution is more prone to the plywood industry. Various processes are taking place there to increase the potential toxin in the water.

As mentioned above, plywoods require only dried sheets, so extracted water goes into waste, mostly thrown in oceans or rivers.

The plywood industry is extremely sensitive to water pollution for the following reasons.

In the process of soaking timber, tannins and other organic materials are released, because the compounds are non-recyclable and are thrown into oceans in large quantities.

When a log is treated, a lot of sawdust, debris, and other waste material is produced. All such material is thrown away, mostly in water causing water pollution.

Besides burning fuel, the air is contaminated by toxic fumes.

In the plywood industry, a lot of non-usable fuel is thrown in the water.

Although this is an illegal thing, so far, factories cannot store them any longer and they throw them away without much concern about pollution.

There are also potential hazards with adhesive chemicals regarding pollution of the water as well.

Soil Pollution from plywood industry

Soil pollution from the plywood industry can be a long debate.

However, the basic factors on which we can conclude in this way are “the plywood industry also threatens our soil”.

If not water, the release of organic substances from the storage of timber, bark, and sawdust is thrown on land.

Those substances pose a risk to the soil and make it unproductive.

Many factories have an isolated system to keep such waste material stored inside. 

The risk of it spreading outside the industrial area is also a concern if the isolation arrangements aren’t sufficient.

It could impact the soil quality in a neighboring community if the isolation arrangements are not sufficient.

Noise Pollution from plywood industry:

It’s common to think any factory nearby produces extremely unpleasant noise.

We cannot avoid this nor can we do something to fix the issue.

The same goes with the plywood industries, during their run time they produce noise and leave a bad impact on the quality of life.

Because the machines such as for transport log, giant saws and other machines, and generators produce noise pollution.

Are plywoods recyclable?

Plywoods are not a recyclable product.

Made out of natural wood but still, their life span is limited to 15-20 years, even high-grade plywoods barely cross this period and become poor, which is then needed to throw away.

The reasons why plywoods are not recyclable are:

Because they contain layers of wood so they cannot be converted into coal to be used as an energy source.

Adhesives are used which is also a reason why they are not suitable for burning since the chemicals in them also burn, which can be toxic.

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