Millennium Post

Call of the Woods

You cannot see the wood for the trees, goes the old saying, though the present is witnessing more of wood in use and less of trees in the forests. Wood, however, was the focus at India Wood in Mumbai recently where it – and its substitutes – were highlighted in different ways for the construction and interior decorations industry. The venue was the International Trade Fair for machinery, technologies, tools, fittings, accessories and raw materials for furniture production and woodworking.

Dinesh Patel, Director of Patel Kenwood Pvt Ltd, based in Ankleshwar (Gujarat) said the company has gone into manufacturing eco-friendly products for the last 10 years by providing “particle board” in place of plywood in the present age. “This particle board is made from sugarcane waste called bagasse and manufacturing one square foot of this board requires a quantity of three kgs of bagasse. Every year, we acquire about 80,000 tonnes of bagasse from 9 or 10 factories near Surat in Gujarat. Bagasse waste was a headache for some mills that use to produce sugar from the sugarcane. But now these mills are now earning money – for what they used to throw away as waste and even spend lots of money in transporting the bagasse to the waste dumps.”

Describing his company’s turnover of about Rs 50 crores per year to his decision of moving into this industry, Patel said “We are manufacturing these particle boards as part of “Make in India” at Ankleshwar in Gujarat, with the products being Acrylic and UV (UltraViolet) finished boards that are made in-house with our own technology. Demand for such products is more because of restrictions on cutting trees for wood and now we even have plans to export to Asian and Gulf countries within one year.”

Patel however lamented the lack of Government support in this regard. “Our Government support is required for our type of industry in procurement of bagasse. While my present production input capacity is 200 cubic metres per day, I get barely 150 cbm of bagasse per day. In Maharashtra, this bagasse goes waste  and the Maharashtra government and other governments that are having sugar mills in their states could divert this bagasse waste to us instead of letting it go waste. This is a big challenge for all involved and – under Make in India – they should urge for MOUs between the sugar mills and particle board factories. All over India, atleast three crore tonnes of bagasse (worth Rs 6,000 crores) is generated and it will benefit the government exchequer, besides being a win-win situation for all concerned. We have to pay VAT at the rate of 15 per cent in Gujarat. We are also creating public awareness on the use of particle boards – which is made from sugarcane waste – and thus also saving the forests from being cut down and the green environment being destroyed in today’s global warming and climate changing world.”

Highlighting the particle boards manufacturing and suppliers, Patel said, “These products used to be – and still continue – imported mainly from China as there are few manufacturers in India. Use of bagasse in manufacturing particle boards (or bagasse boards) leads to economy in cost of making the required furniture (readymade) – compared to plywood. The particle boards prices are three times cheaper than plywood and cost-effective for consumers in changing their décor.

The furniture at present is chosen by the middle class while also being affordable for the lower class, but now our emphasis is on tapping the upper class clientele through our premium range of panel products that are used in furniture for offices, homes, kitchens, tables  and even wall paneling.”

With Make in India being mooted and supported by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Patel said this initiative has provided a great boost for the industry in such an unknown factor that however provided an answer to waste and environmental problems in its usage as particle boards. “We have set out goal to become the ultimate solution-provider for the furniture manufacturing industry in India by providing revolutionary 100 per cent wood free substitutes. Following the philosophy “Save Trees for a Green Earth,” we ensure complying with all environmental norms set by the government and concerned authorities.”

Matthias Misof, sales representative of FELDER (Austria), Northern Europe and India, said Austrian technology in machines and tools for woodworking was being showcased here. “We have been participating in this event since its inception and it has generated good business for us. We are promoting machines – which have been produced 100 per cent in Austria – for the woodworking industry and they cost anywhere between Rs three lakhs to around Euro 1,80,000 (Computer Numeric Controlled – CNC – machines) from the entry level type to the industrial level,” he said.

Nirmala Thomas, Director, India Market Development, for Forestry Innovation Consulting India Pvt. Ltd, Government of British Columbia, highlighted Canadian wood. “Wood species from British Columbia (BC), Canada come from sustainably managed forests. India has strongly endorsed the need to protect its forest resources and encourages imports of forest products from sustainable suppliers such as Canada as this helps to reduce the demand for logging of timber in India and in tropical rainforests around the world.”

“Canadian wood products, being sustainable green building material and also natural insulator, are more energy efficient than most other materials. Transporting wood products from Canada to India does generate greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2). However, this does not mean that sourcing wood products from Canada has a negative environment impact. An independent study showed that the whole process of harvesting trees, producing wood products in mills, transporting them to the ports and shipping them to India far outweighs any negative impacts by a factor of 2.3 to 1. This is because trees store carbon while they are alive and then in the lumber and products. (Wood captures 32,333 kgs of CO2. Producing and shipping wood creates 14,835 kgs of CO2. Therefore 2.3 times more CO2 is taken out of the atmosphere.).”

“Canadian wood comes from Western Hemlock, Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, Yellow Cedar, Spruce-pine-fir (SPF). WH is a non-resinous species used in a wide array of applications including furniture, doors and windows, while WRC is a prominent Canadian species used for outdoor furniture and playground equipment as it exhibits outstanding decay and termite resistance. DF is one of the most durable and strong species due to its extraordinary strength-to-weight ratio and commands a great demand globally for building and construction. YC is an exclusive Canadian species with a growth so slow that its takes 200 years to reach a marketable size. It is used in decorative paneling, furniture etc. SPF is mainly a mix of white spruce and lodgepole pine used in flat-packed furniture industry, and primarily for framing in North American housing.”

Meanwhile, Malaysian furniture is eyeing a bigger market share in India with furniture being one of the strongest growing retail sectors from Malaysia in India. In 2014, Malaysia was India’s second largest source for furniture import valued at around $76.5 million, which grew by 8.77 per cent over 2013. On the other hand India ranked as the 8th largest export destination for Malaysian furniture. In addition to local wood furniture, Malaysia offers a rich variety of options, including furniture from imported woods, plastic, metal, composite and a combination of materials. To keep abreast with development, Malaysian furniture makers use innovative mixes of materials such as wood, composite, polyethylene and metal, producing designs that are both functional and aesthetic, according to MATRADE, the trade section of Malaysia. 

In the effort to go green, Malaysian manufacturers are adopting green manufacturing methods and incorporate sustainable and chemical free fabrics fibres in their upholsteries, apart from using green wood. On the other hand, India, an Asian economic powerhouse, offers good opportunities for Malaysian furniture. Aside from the expanding middle class, a boom in the construction industry and a growing demand for of?ce space within major cities offer good market potential for Malaysian furniture. Similarly the increasing number of three-star, four-star and ?ve-star hotels in India offer equally good market opportunities. Demand for furniture of international standards is very high in the larger cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.

Wood comes from trees, which produces oxygen and one matured tree can produce enough oxygen for 10 people to breathe for one year. Trees are also good for cleaning soil as well as the air. Carbon dioxide is a huge problem in today’s world, but trees are able to absorb and hold onto carbon dioxide as well as sulfur dioxide and even nitrogen dioxide.

However, today many tree species are considered endangered and these include: the Loulo tree in the Hawaiian Islands, with 25 different variations of this tree being found on each island and some growing even 60 feet tall. Each island has its own species and every species is distinct, not only in size but where they grow and the colour palm it provides. The trees only have one trunk and have various branches that grow palms on the end. The Polynesians who used it for making spears and thatching first brought it there. The trees flourished until the ancient Hawaiians arrived, bringing pigs and other animals with them that either ate the seeds or ruined the roots of young trees.

The Honduras Rosewood tree, found in Belize, Southern Mexico, and Guatemala, is on the endangered list due to the heavy use of its lumber for various products including musical instruments like guitars and various other stringed instruments, claves and xylophones, covering for cabinets, knife handles, and even furniture. However, this tree growth continues to decline and is the worst in Belize where slash-and-burn agriculture is widely used.

The African Baobab tree has been around for at least 1,000 years and grow up to 82 feet in height  in the Blue Nile as well as Kordofan and Darfur, where the its fruit is used for various things such as medicine and food. 

The Indian furniture manufacturing industry is pegged at Rs 1,20,000 crore ($20 billion) and employs more than 3,00,000 people in the organised sector. While the wooden home furniture is the biggest segment, the fastest growth is seen in the modular kitchen segment. The industry has seen a compounded annual growth rate of 30 per cent. Although a mere per centage of India’s woodworking industry is organised, the demand-supply gap is attracting more and more foreign players to India, and the current e-retailing boom also offers immense business opportunities. The Make in India initiative by the Indian government aims to bring about high quality standards and hopes to attract a sizable international capital and technological investments in the country. India has already marked its presence as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It has been ranked among the top three destinations for inbound investments. The regulatory environment in terms of foreign investment has been consistently eased to make it investor-friendly. Today, INDIAWOOD has become the biggest sourcing platform for furniture manufacturers, wood-based handicraft manufacturers, saw millers, craftsmen, woodworking professionals, architects and interior designers in the region. 

INDIAWOOD 2014 gathered 32,703 attendees from 38 countries, besides 278 cities from 27 states in India participating in the event. About 97 per cent of 2014’s exhibitors expressed satisfaction with the commercial success of the event and its features, the organisers stated. 

Forest products as a group is placed in the 8th position after fuels, transport equipment, office and telecom equipment, chemicals, iron and steel, and clothing.
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