Every day, people benefit from products that contain formaldehyde. This chemical is a critical, commercially valuable, and basic building block in our modern society.
While embalming is one of formaldehyde's earliest and best-known uses, this application represents less than one percent of formaldehyde use. Products derived from formaldehyde have an extremely broad role in the economy and provide many benefits to the public. For example, the wood-based panel industry relies heavily on the exceptional performance of formaldehyde-based glues and resins.
In many instances, because formaldehyde is a building-block molecule, few compounds can replace it as a raw material without reducing performance and making the final products more expensive. Whether it's used in plywood for home construction, fuel system components for automobiles or door and window insulation for modern airliners, formaldehyde provides greater utility for consumers in the form of extended use, consistent quality and improved performance and safety.
Formaldehyde-based glues and resins allow wood chips, sawdust or recyclable wood waste to be combined to create functional and aesthetic composite wood products, such as particleboard and medium density fiberboard for use in cabinets, furniture and other durable, cost-effective and high performance applications.
And, thanks to the versatility and proven performance characteristics of formaldehyde-based binders, wood utilization rates now exceed 90 percent, and wood waste has shrunk to minimal levels. Formaldehyde chemistry has been essential in the development of composite panel products that have increased the wood utilization rates.
Importantly, Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) data show that carbon stored in composite wood panels exceed that generated in the extraction and production of the panels.
There currently are no alternative resins that provide overall better technical performance, versatility and cost effectiveness than formaldehyde-based resins.
Formaldehyde-based binders enable growth and innovative processes to extract and utilize the full potential of wood in providing consumers with affordable high-quality products, while helping our wood resources go farther.