Arundo as cheap plywood alternative: Sustainable containers for fruits and vegetables



With around 46,000 to 58,000 square miles of forest are destroyed annually, the globe loses a staggering number of 48 football fields of carbon reducing trees per minute. Deforestation as an activity contributes to a massive 15% of all greenhouse emissions, thus the need to find wood alternatives is undeniable. As Arundo donax (also known as giant reed) bears similar strengths to some types of hard-wood, thus this rapidly growing plant is a perfect feedstock for plywood alternative. Why would it be an ideal scenario? Well, because Arundo donax is not only more cost-efficient, but its eco-friendly character also protects the environment.


Why choose giant reed as a feedstock

The arguments for investing in giant reed are almost endless: low agronomic input, low production costs, ability to grow on marginal lands, and capacity for phytoremediation.

Bioenergy Crops on Marginal Land

Availability of marginal land for industrial crops in the EU

Marginal Land For Energy Crop Production: A Solution For Food Security?

Moreover, biomass from Arundo donax (with a yield around 50-80 dry tonnes/hectare/year) has higher content in fibrous materials with interesting chemical characteristics, it is suitable for application in ethanol production and even as a source of pulp for paper-making.

Most importantly, however, giant reed particleboard, as a raw material, complies with the requirements of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC) because it is biodegradable and renewable.

Arundo donax as cheap plywood alternative: the qualities of giant reed as plywood

García-Ortuño et al. and Flores et al. used particles from Arundo culms with different particle sizes as a raw material for particle board panels, and concluded that producing high-quality Arundo-based particleboards is achievable.

Not only is it feasible to make particleboards from Arundo donax, but these particles can be produced using different non-modified cereal flours and native starches as binders without the addition of chemicals. By avoiding non-natural substances, the risks to human health and the environment is being reduced.

In relative terms, giant reed was observed to have a significantly better performance, especially in terms of MOR (modulus of rupture, that is, bend strength) where figures were from 2-10 times higher than spruce wood, sunflower stalks, topinambur stalks or even Mischanthus.



Arundo donax as cheap plywood alternative: sustainable containers for fruits and vegetables

In an experiment, tomatoes and strawberries were stored (for 7 and 14 days, respectively) in regular, plywood containers (control group) and plywood alternatives made from Arundo donax. The aim of the study was to observe the effect of the material of the container had on on shelf-life. At the end of the tests it was suggested that giant reed containers can be utilised for storing food without any negative effects on shelf-life or quality.

After the shelf-life experiment, giant reed containers were further tested. All of the properties met the requirements established for stacking, compression, static bending and dynamic compression. The giant reed containers resisted more than 5000 kg of compressive strain, just like the regular, plywood ones. The maximum deflection that the containers exhibited was 3.84 mm, which is within the boundaries of the maximum of 6.1 mm allowed. Thus, it is possible to use giant reed particle boards in the field of transport and distribution as well.


From the facts and data known today, it can be concluded that Arundo donax as a cheap plywood alternative

  • is of good quality
  • satisfies the requirements of the relevant standard specifications
  • can be used as sustainable storage by the food industry
  • does not need toxic chemicals as binders
  • is eco-friendly
  • has low input and low production cost requirements

To know more about Arundo donax as a cheap plywood alternative and many other investments possibilities, take a look at our website or send us an email at info@arundobioenergy.com.

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