A look at the woodworking industry and how businesses can run sustainable operations, without having a negative impact on the environment.
The woodworking industry plays a very important role in the modern economy. The industry provides livelihood for millions of people worldwide. In South Africa, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) reports that the woodworking industry provides over 200,000 jobs and contributes approximately R3 billion to the economy.
However, woodworking involves everything from small hand tools to large CNCs, whether cutting, sanding, planing, edge banding, dowel drilling, which can generate an enormous amounts of waste. The impact of the waste on people and the environment, if not managed efficiently, threatens the very survival of the entire industry in the long term. The onus lies on all stakeholders to play their part in reducing the environmental impact of woodworking activities.
In order to handle waste safely and efficiently, and ensure sustainable business operations, companies need to incorporate sound waste management systems into their production processes; not as an afterthought, but as an integral part of all procedures that lead to the final product.
Taking a proactive measure to integrate sound waste management systems into your manufacturing processes has three main benefits; improved production efficiency, better working environment and less impact on the community within which your business operates. For instance, by using dust collectors, piping or ducting, fans, conveyors, silos and automated control systems, sawmills are well-placed to improve air quality in working and surrounding environments and to enhance product quality.
Using dust collection systems within the woodworking environment has proven to be a cost-effective way to handle combustible dust. Dust collectors are reliable, efficient and economical. In order to meet worldwide standards and regulations on handling combustible dust generated by machining wood, it is recommended that dust extraction takes place at source. Source extraction will ensure compliance to the standards and regulations such as ATEX and NFPA, which insists on the safety of workers.
Though the installation of wood waste handling solutions help businesses improve production efficiency and achieve a better working environment, it never ends there. The solutions also help to facilitate wood waste recycling and turn them into valuable by-products. The initial cost of implementing such systems may seem astronomical at first, however, the long term benefits are undeniable for both the bottom line and business sustainability.