MeadWestvaco Specialty Chemicals and Chemco Inc. have launched a joint venture company, EverTech L.L.C., that produces a "hardened wood," simulating rare old growth lumber on the cheap. EverTech will manufacture and market Alowood, the new line of wood products based on the company's proprietary process for wood hardening (more on that later). "The new products will offer a consistent appearance, milling performance and hardness competitive with rain forest hardwoods, without the associated environmental impact. The hardened product, made using "Everdex" technology, is made from plantation-grown sustainable softwoods". While their literature uses the term "naturally-enhanced," no where did we see "organic", "natural", or "FSC certification," for example. They do mention that initial markets include wood flooring and other interior applications, such as furniture, cabinetry, molding and doors. Reminds us of the century old innovation of substituting plastic for ivory on the piano keys: it could be a very good thing for endangered tropical hardwoods. While we applaud chemical companies that abandon the toxic soup approach, we are a bit nervous about what Alowood is actually treated with. Based on some unofficial looking press material we found, our concern may be due to the group's poor PR skills rather than an attempt to hide the toxins. If the linked material is to be believed, corn starch is one of the materials injected to achieve added hardness, which, like the Victorian starched collar, is not something we'd expect to last for long.
What else might be in it? Silicates? A soy-based epoxy? We can't tell. And, it's not fair to pass judgement n "green-ness" in the absence of adequate information. Green designers take note: you must sign your work to get full credit! If anyone finds a proper MSDS for Alowood, please fill us in with a comment.