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Wood magic… the secret ingredient in medication, toothpaste and plastic

Toothbrush

We know that the forest products industry provides us with lumber for building, paper for reading and learning, and pulp for boxes and commercial packaging. These traditional uses don’t even begin to tell the whole story of how wood enriches our daily lives.

Responsible forest products companies, like Resolute, work hard to ensure that no parts of the trees we harvest go to waste. We have made major investments in research and technology to make full use of tree parts and by-products that used to be considered waste, for example lignin (the natural glue that holds the wood together), bark and sawdust. We use these raw materials to make more efficient, lighter papers and to make wood pellets that are used to generate renewable energy.

But even that isn’t the whole story. The cellulose fibers and lignin released when wood is processed into pulp often turn up in surprising places, like your clothes or your medicine cabinet.

Wood cellulose is used to make cellophane, and for hard plastics used to make flooring, ping pong balls, sports helmets, dinnerware and certain kinds of paints. Processed cellulose fibers are spun into Rayon and Tencel® synthetic fibers, which are used to make clothes, towels and other fabric products in your home.

With further processing, wood cellulose helps make nail polish stronger and more lustrous and is included in other cosmetic products. Even your laptop screen can contain wood components.

Pulp by-products are used to manufacture food and medicine. In the food industry, it is the key ingredient in artificial vanilla and helps make ice cream, salad dressings and other products creamier. It is used in toothpaste, deodorants and shampoo to make them easier to use. Pharmaceutical companies also use refined microcrystalline cellulose to create faster acting medicine through quick-dissolve tablets.

So many daily products we depend on come from wood and wood products that our lives would change dramatically if we no longer had them. This is one of the reasons that Resolute and many other forest products companies work hard to manage our forests sustainably, to ensure that we can continue to benefit from them into the future.

To learn more about the surprising uses of wood, please watch this video produced by Natural Resources Canada.

 

Primary source material:

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fr077;
http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/forests/video/13528;
http://www.awf.com/american_wood_fibers_industrial.htm;
http://www.drugs.com/inactive/cellulose-164.html

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