American Forest & Paper Association President and CEO Donna Harman issued the following statement regarding Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidance to modernize ambient air policy under the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) program. EPA released a draft memo with the updated guidelines for receptor placement. “Applying decades-old ambient air policy under the NAAQS implementation program, represents an unrealistic ‘once-size-fits-all’ modeling approach. Paper and wood products manufacturers welcome EPA’s recognition that times and technology have changed by taking action to modernize ambient air policy. “By clarifying where the public is truly exposed, EPA eliminates many hypothetical modeling scenarios that can bog down projects unnecessarily. For example, assessments have been done for areas inside property boundaries where the public does not have legal access. Using receptor locations where the general public has legitimate and realistic access makes scientific and common sense. This action takes a long-overdue first step toward ensuring real-world air quality modeling is used to determine any air quality impacts from a project.”
The forest is not only a habitat for animals and plants but a retreat for people as well. It is also the economic basis for Mercer Timber Products and all companies in the Forestry sector – thus a driver of value creation, especially in rural areas. The industry is exemplary in showing that this is not a contradiction: through the sustainable management of German forests and the efficient use of our resource, wood, the timber industry is making an important contribution to climate protection and ultimately a sustainable future for us all.
Wood is the most important renewable raw material in Germany. It plays an outstanding role in climate-neutral value creation and energy generation. Thanks to its sustainable management, the forests in Germany have been supplying wood for a wide variety of purposes for over 300 years. Every year, more wood grows in Germany than is used. Around 32 percent of Germany’s total area is covered with forest, making the country one of the most densely forested areas in Europe. As a PEFC-certified company, Mercer Timber Products supports this sustainable management. After all, forest management is the basis of our existence.
In addition, Mercer’s use of wood takes an important step in the shift from fossil fuel energy. The bark from the harvested logs is used directly in the biomass cogeneration plant, which generates green electricity and heat for the drying process. The sawn timber produced in our sawmill is a durable product used in wooden house construction and the industrial packaging sector. The remaining residuals are used in pulp production at our sister plant, Mercer Rosenthal, and for further processing such as into particleboard. This creates a highly efficient production process – every possible fibre of the wood creates wood products, is recycled, or used to generate renewable energy to substitute fossil fuels.
Any wood product used stores CO2 throughout its lifetime. As a renewable resource coupled with its storage capabilities, wood contributes directly to climate protection. When one solid cubic metre of wood is produced from the forest, it removes roughly one tonne of CO2 from the air. In buildings where durable wood products are used in their construction, the carbon remains bound for many years. A single-family home built with 30 cubic metres of wood in its framing removes more than 25 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere; a wooden roof truss alone removes around eight tonnes of CO2. In construction, wood replaces energy-intensive materials and thus contributes to a significant improvement in the overall energy efficiency of a building.
The increased use of wood, in which energy use takes place only after material use, has the greatest advantage for climate protection. Only at the end of their life cycle do wood products release the stored CO2, which is in turn stored by renewable trees. This creates a closed, neutral CO2 cycle.
It is not only the use of wood products that contributes to climate protection. The processes in the Mercer Timber Products sawmill itself also make an important contribution to a sustainable bioeconomy. By producing the required energy to operate our sawmill from renewable raw materials, using every fibre of the procured wood we receive, we contribute to maintaining livable conditions for our future generations.