I remember that as a child I had a personal belief about the poplar groves that I saw flowing from the car window: rows of perfect geometries that seemed to disappear and recompose like soldiers in a military parade. I was convinced that they were small and very orderly modern forests, that is, they were the rationalized version of the traditional ones, rather disordered.
A fantasy that came to my mind today that poplar cultivation is being re-evaluated, thanks to the rapid growth, the high mechanical properties and at the same time the homogeneity and workability of its wood. It is an excellent material for environmentally friendly packaging, and recent studies have proven the purifying properties of its roots: there are those who have already called it “plastic-eating tree”.
The Kyoto Protocol of 1997, an international treaty for the reduction of atmospheric CO2, explicitly recognized the positive environmental role of forests and woody crops, with particular regard to those with rapid growth. An Italian research just published has shown that poplar of the Populus alba Villafranca species would even be able to eliminate the phthalates present in the soil thanks to its roots capable of absorbing and storing these substances.
In competition with plastic, from the shelf to the table
Poplar also offers valid alternatives to the use of plastic materials, such as the possibility of obtaining biodegradable and environmentally friendly food packaging in pure poplar. In this regard, an agreement recently signed between FederBio and FederlegnoArredo aims to encourage the organic cultivation of poplars to use wood in the production of packaging for organic products.
Maria Grazia Mammuccini, president of FederBio, declared her optimism towards the agreement, especially with the aim of the organic certification procedure for this type of cultivation, while Emanuele Orsini, president of FederlegnoArredo, emphasized the opportunity to invest in materials that are increasingly greener, to guarantee the future of the sector.
Packaging (especially food) represents a large portion of municipal waste, a problem to be solved quickly. Some solutions could also come from our small and tidy modern forests