15 mm of plywood every year

Friday 18 November 2022. – Last Tuesday earth’s population reached 8 billion. The plywood industry is not directly related to birthrate or mortality, but I started to wonder how much plywood 8 billion people consume. Is plywood consumption increasing or decreasing on a global scale? How big is my stake in total consumption?

If each one of us would get every year a square meter of plywood, how thick that panel would be? Has the thickness changed over time?

The UN and FAO data say that in 1960 the global population was 3 billion and plywood production was 15 million m3. That made a floppy 5 mm square-edged board for you and all of your fellow inhabitants.

By 1970 the plywood production had increased to 33 million m3, and the imaginary citizen panel became 9 mm thick.

Between 1970 and 2000 plywood consumption per capita remained quite the same. Population and plywood production rose at the same pace. People celebrating the new millennium got the same 9 mm panels as 30 years before.

Plywood production started to speed up in 2000. In just ten years the production rose by 40 million m3. The main part of that manufacturing boom appeared in China. In the dawn of the 2010s global plywood production reached 100 million m3, and the annual citizen panel had strengthened to 15 mm. Since 2010 the plywood production growth has calmed down, and the average square meter thickness remains at 15 mm still today.

According to the United Nations prognosis, population growth decelerates. The median prediction for 2030 is “only” 8.5 billion people. But to keep the plywood consumption per capita the same as today, 10 million m3 more plywood is needed until 2030. Wow.

Many of us feel a declining plywood demand at the moment. It is hard to believe market figures that are approximate as well as crazy big. However, I hope the future trends offer some comfort in the gloomy market conditions.