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July-August-2016

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20 PalletCentral • July-August 2016 palletcentral.com n May 12, 2016, the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory (USDA-FS-FPL) and NWPCA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to re-new a partnership between the Federal government and the wooden pallet and container industry. The MOU will allow NWPCA and the FPL to partner on a variety of projects and explore potential areas of cooperation. Plans are already underway for the development of environmental product declarations (EPDs) for the wood pallet industry to establish innovative pilot projects that explore urban wood recovery, and for research and collaboration for NWPCA's Pallet Design System™. "It's a natural partnership with great potential," says Brent McClendon, NWPCA President and CEO. Adds Michael Ritter, FPL's Assistant Director: "With the agreement, we have recognition that there are a number of potential opportunities where FPL and NWPCA can work together." "We were able to put the agreement together fairly quickly – in just a few months," says Karen L. Martinson, Program Specialist, USDA Forest Products Laboratory, who worked as a liaison between the FPL and the NWPCA to help forge the new working relationship. "NWPCA was very easy to work with." NWPCA's Vice President of Advocacy and External Affairs Patrick Atagi agreed with Karen, "Having worked at USDA before, I knew there was a great fit, which makes it easy to partner with a preeminent organization like the USDA-FS-FPL. I'm very happy this worked out and paves the way for great research and benefits for USDA and the industry as a whole." Essentially, the new deal enables the NWPCA to tap into the FPL's research services to secure environmental certifications it needs to open new markets for wood packaging. The work is also mutually beneficial for the USDA-FS-FPL. By working with a global industry the lab strengthens its background and depth in the wood pallet and wood packaging industry. "This new working arrangement brings robust research and the scientific clout this industry needs to address today's and tomorrow's critical issues – many of which are front-and-center in our Strategic Plan," says Steve Mazza, NWPCA's elected Board Chair. NWPCA Director of Science & Technology Integration, Dr. Brad Gething, further explained the benefits of the new partnership, "FPL is the preeminent wood research facility in the U.S., which is matched by the quality of the scientists and engineers that work there. It's a fantastic opportunity to tap this resource for the advancement of the pallet industry." From its perspective, the FPL sees the deal as a way to advance its core mission: find new opportunities to ensure wood from the nation's forests is put to the best possible use. The wood pallet and wood packaging industry thrives on making efficient use of timber and reclaimed wood, so the possibilities for collaboration are far- reaching. Specifically, one exciting initiative explores the use of urban wood materials for use in pallet and container manufacturing. It's a hoped-for market change that could provide an alternative source of cost-effective raw material. Another example of potential collaboration: Sourcing felled wood from national forests ravaged by natural disasters like NWPCA Partnership with U.S. Forest Products Lab Opens Doors By Joe Dysart MOU O

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