July-August 2023

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30 PalletCentral • July-August 2023 Carbon 101 N WPCA staff continues to receive numerous inquiries on carbon-related matters. ese inquiries cover a broad spectrum of topics, ranging from carbon credits and customer assistance with carbon accounting to comparing the carbon footprint of wood against other materials. With numerous claims and uncertainties in the carbon space, we want to provide clarity and focus our efforts to ensure that the wood pallet industry is strategically positioned in the realm of carbon. Naturally, addressing such a complex and evolving question within the confines of a single article is a challenge. However, our purpose remains steadfast – to convey NWPCA's unwavering commitment to pursuing the ultimate solution. In 2021, NWPCA took a significant step forward by releasing the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) for wood pallets, the first of its kind in the supply chain. is EPD serves as a third-party certified tool that effectively communicates the carbon impact of wood pallets. We developed the EPD in response to its proven effectiveness in other sectors, such as construction, where it has helped counter unsubstantiated environmental claims and level the playing field. To credibly participate in the EPD dialogue, you must have the necessary data to substantiate any claims. Although it started slowly, as is often the case when you are first to market, we have recently witnessed an increasing number of success stories involving the EPD. We are optimistic that this positive trend will continue to gain momentum. What's even more promising is that the current version of the EPD is merely the starting point, not the final destination. A key requirement of the EPD is its renewal every five years. is ensures that the EPD remains up to date while allowing us to explore new ideas that can enhance the carbon narrative it conveys. Before delving into these ideas, it is important to understand the scientific principle that underpins them. As trees grow, they capture carbon from the atmosphere, storing it within their wood tissue. When wood reaches the end of its life cycle and decomposes or is burned, it merely releases that captured carbon back into the atmosphere without increasing the overall net carbon level. Moreover, any wood carbon that remains permanently stored in the ground signifies a permanent removal of carbon from the atmosphere, constituting a net decrease in carbon to the atmosphere. is described carbon cycle has practical implications for wood pallets and carbon impact calculations. For example, while millions of wood From carbon credits to the Environ- mental Product Declaration (EPD) certification tool, NWPCA continues to monitor and address carbon- related issues as they emerge. By Brad Gething, PhD Empowering the Wood Pallet Industry's Journey Nguyen et al. (2017) "Long-term effects of organic mulch on soil carbon dynamics in a vineyard": This study investigated the impact of organic mulch on soil carbon dynamics in a vineyard. The researchers compared wood chip mulch, straw mulch, and no mulch treatments. They found that both wood chip and straw mulches increased soil organic carbon content compared to the no mulch treatment. Additionally, wood chip mulch had a more substantial effect on soil carbon sequestration than straw mulch. Bajoriene et al. (2013) "Effect of organic mulches on the content of organic carbon in the soil:" Overall, the study concluded that the application of organic mulches can contribute to the buildup of soil organic carbon. The study highlighted that the type of organic mulch used influenced the extent of carbon accumulation. Some mulch- es, such as wood chips or straw, had a more significant impact on increasing soil organic carbon content compared to other mulch types. Factors like mulch thickness, decomposition rate, and management practices also played a role in determining the effectiveness of mulches in sequestering organic carbon. Ximenes et al. (2019) "Improving understanding of carbon storage in wood in landfills: Evidence from reactor studies." This study confirms that disposal of wood in landfills in Australia results in long-term storage of carbon, with only minimal conversion of carbon to gaseous end products. Unraveling the Complexities: iStock/Tanankorn Pilong

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