There are two kinds of environmental impacts created by plywood industries. They are the offsite and onsite impacts. When the impact is the area where the manufacturing takes place, it is called onsite impact. The impact caused associated with timber harvesting, which is used as the source in plywood industry is the offsite impact.
The plywood industries, like most of the industries, causes water, noise, soil and air pollution. Its energy consumption and transportation carry a great carbon footprint.
Leaching timber for tannins, leakage from chemicals and other fuels are the major reasons for water pollution. This run off can pollute both ground water by infiltration and surface water that is near the industry. The main chemicals that are used in plywood industry are urea and formaldehyde. These chemicals pollute the water which makes it unfit for consumption. Also, if the water is chlorine treated to purify it, it forms carcinogens.
Most of the plywood industries are built in rural areas which make the noises even more noticeable. The main reasons for noise are transported finished products and raw material, the noise made by peeling machine and generators.
Organic substances that leach from timber, sawdust and bark and other chemicals pollute the soil surrounding the industry. If not properly contained, it could affect the soil quality in the surrounding communities.
Air pollution is caused by the emission of chemicals, particulate emission from wood sawing and hydrocarbon from generators. The key pollutants of air are formaldehyde, methanol, saw dust and hydrocarbons.
The other environmental impacts include deforestation, soil degradation, carbon footprint, and disposal. When timber is harvested for plywood manufacture, there is severe deforestation. As a result of deforestation, the top soil is lost in run off during monsoon, resulting in degradation. Carbon footprint is also high, due to the transport of products and raw materials. Plywood disposal is a huge concern as it takes 20 years to decay, and recycling does not provide any useful product. Burning releases pollutants and hence, disposal of plywood is fairly difficult.