There is extensive and worldwide scientific evidence that wood is the only renewable resource and that forestry and forest products have high carbon reduction potential. This is good news for Africa’s fabricators of solid wood furniture, cabinetry made from wood-based boards and engineered timber.

However, globalisation changes how environmentally-aware customers expect businesses to describe and measure their competitiveness. For example, listed international companies and firms with an overseas customer base and presence publish annual sustainability reports explaining how their business processes reduce their carbon footprint.


Monitor customer supply chains

South African owners and managers of companies manufacturing wood-based products should monitor the supply chain demands of their niche markets and their wholesale and retail customers. In Europe, for example, furniture suppliers are increasingly expected to conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) to determine their carbon footprint.

The LCA estimates the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout the product life cycle. It includes all the raw materials (eg solid wood, boards, adhesives, hardware, coatings and packaging materials), energy consumption, fuel used for employee transportation, waste ( eg wastewater, exhaust fumes, offcuts, sawdust, chips, dust collecting process, rags, used chemicals).

Researchers confirm that the finishing process is responsible for the long production time when it comes to solid wood furniture. The method of repeated spraying and polishing extends the production cycle, consumes large amounts of energy and resources and has a considerable negative impact on the health of operators.


Smart machines

The machine suppliers exhibiting at WoodEx for Africa 2022 represent original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) mainly from Europe and some from the Middle and the Far East. The OEMs are investing vast sums of money in R&D to increase the precision of their machines and cutting tools.

They are working to reduce the carbon footprint of their clients by developing safe and energy-efficient wood processing machines. The objective is to optimise materials usage and improve production efficiencies through automated materials handling.

WoodEx exhibitors are ready to discuss how raw materials and product design affect the downstream processes. These processes need skilled operators and modern machines with intelligent (smart) controls to reduce production cycles, sawdust, waste and energy consumption.

Don’t miss WoodEX for Africa, the Deck & Flooring Expo and the African Construction Expo on 7 to 9 June 2022 at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

Source: Xinghuan Wu, Jiangang Zhu, Xu Wang (2021): A review of carbon reduction analysis during the design and manufacture of solid wood furniture., North Carolina State University