Written by Brant Olson

Topics: Pulp and Paper

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We get tons of questions here at RAN. Here’s a good one from Anne, about buying wood floors for her home:

I’ve been looking into what I thought were “green” options for redoing my floors. Specifically, I’m considering FSC-certified Brazilian Cherry or Lyptus. I saw on your web-site, however, that Weyerhaeuser, which has the patent on Lyptus, I believe, is logging in old-growth forests. I’m confused because I thought Lyptus was grown on plantations, but I obviously don’t want to support a company that conducts damaging logging practices, even if the particular product I’m purchasing isn’t obtained in such a way. Can you tell me please if FSC-certified Brazilian Cherry and Lyptus really are ecological choices for flooring?

Thank you for your time and help.



Great question! In general, the FSC is a good sign that the products you buy are sourced sustainably. Like any complex standard though (think organic), the FSC is by no means perfect. We encourage people to look beyond the label to inform themselves of the source of the product–especially when buying tropical hardwoods, including Weyerhaeuser’s lyptus products.

First, Lyptus is NOT FSC-certified. Unfortunately, there are some misleading claims and outright fraud surrounding FSC labels out there. Be sure to verify claims by checking for the code that accompanys any FSC-certified product or searching for the product online.

Lyptus is produced by Weyerhaeuser through a joint venture with Aracruz Cellulose at a mill near Espirito Santo, Brazil. Aracruz plantations located in the same region as the Lyptus mill are the subject of a an extremely vigerous dispute with local indigenous communities, who say that Aracruz tree farms have devestated their homeland.

Weyerhaeuser says that the lyptus product doesn’t come from the disputed area, but stops short of saying that they never get any of these trees. Locals on the ground concede that most of the trees go to feed a paper mill in the area, but say that some of the trees may be headed to the Lyptus mill on a spot-basis. Bottom line, this probably isn’t a situation you want to touch with a ten-foot-pole, let alone your hard-earned cash.

Try bamboo flooring as a great alternative to Lyptus. It’s high quality, durable, great looking, and very low impact from a socio-environntal perspective! The cherry is probably okay–it’s likely domestically produced, where the FSC is generally strong . I’m not aware of any current significant issues related to the product (still love that bamboo though, lower impact and it stains really well).

16 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Richard Choate says:

    Brazilian cherry is not domestically produced. The tree, also called jatoba, is Hymenaea courbaril which grows in South America.

  2. Bob Villa says:

    I bought the weyerhauser michelangelo series and LOVE it. They may be doing some things wrong still but at least they are trying : )

  3. Daniel Bloom says:

    Please address the fact that Bamboo flooring is held together with glue.
    The effects upon health due to toxicity via emmissions is unknown.
    No single product will meet all the criteria for a perfect model, measure you’re needs and what you can compromise, then do the research! Select the best you can get at that point,we chose Lyptus.

  4. Eric Seitz says:

    My hat is off to Weyerhaeuser.

    There will never be a perfect product or supplier, it is impossible.

    I am a US ex pat in Brazil, have been in the interior of the state of Sao Paulo now for two years. I work with regional farming syndicates. I assist local producers by identifying and improving markets for their goods.

    Foreign companies are cleaning this place up, foreign companies put the pressure on the brazilians to do things “right”.

    Left to tend their own backyard the Brazlians would destroy the amazon, pantanal, mato atlantico, in the blink of an eye.

    Do not nitpick. If you want to make a difference then support US and Canadian companies and their employees. They along with your dollar are the force which can make things right.

  5. Brant says:

    Eric, I appreciate the dialog, but you seem to be making a pretty sweeping generalization to refute a very specific case. How has Weyerhaeuser “cleaned up” Brazil? Are you familiar with the conflict between the Tupinikim/Guaran and Aracruz in Espirito Santo?

  6. Tim Allen says:

    its tool time!!

  7. Joey Terra says:

    Lyptus is not a enviromental product and weyerhaeuser is by no means a green company. I would stay away from lyptus and the green washing that comes with this product. Saying that at least thay are trying is a load of B.S. You cant clear cut one section of forest and throw the consumers a green bone like lyptus and say were doing good. Pick companys that only do good. Bamboo is produced by several companies that use non-formaldehyde glues and are low in v.o.c’s.

  8. amy says:

    Weyerhaeuser states that they don’t use all parts of the trees for flooring, cabinetry, or dimentional lumber. Not all parts of the tree are hard enough, so in order to use as much of they tree as possible they supply other industries. Just because a company isn’t certified doesn’t mean they aren’t a good “green” company. It can be difficult talking green when referring to any wood manufacturer or supplier. The good companies will be conscious of the green movement and be true to green as much they are able. As Bob Villa said, “At least they are trying.”

  9. I think the point of Lyptus’s sustainability is being missed. Eucalyptus is an extremely fast growing tree. You can literally forest an enormous area quickly with little to no maintenance because of its reproductive qualities. It will grow practically anywhere as well. We could probably use Eucalyptus to reforest the whole planet if needed.

  10. Jim Erskine says:

    Daniel, We carry EcoTimber and Bamboo Mountain products which are made with formaldehyde free adhesives. If you are interested give us a call. 828-253-5455

  11. mo says:

    the greenest option is something that was grown, harvested, and milled right where you live.
    no matter how fast lyptus or bamboo grows, it Is not produced here in the US, so you really need to think about how many gallons of fuel that were used to get it here, as well as all the rest of the points which were given already.

  12. joe says:

    Bamboo?..Talk about a carborn footprint! Shipped all the way from China! Sounds like a lot of fuel to me. Lyptus is an option for anyone considering flooring. Yes , some companies use enviro-glues..but for the most part they do not. The product still must be shipped a long way and that is one HUGE footprint.

  13. George says:

    Shipping a ton by truck overland takes 4 times the energy of shipping a ton by boat across the ocean. Where I live in Seattle, it is actually less carbon impact to get bamboo by boat from Shanghai than pine from Savannah by truck.

    Also, keep in mind that eucalyptus grows so fast because it sucks all the nutrients from the soil, much like tobacco does. We would never be able to reforest the planet with eucalyptus, not more than once anyway, because the soil would be exhausted. There is no free lunch, even for tree growth.

  14. Confuzzled Consumer says:

    I assume then that the Cerflor certification program is meaningless, and the European PEFC endorsement likewise? The problem for us consumers is that there isn’t a readily available clearinghouse for all the information substantiating the competing claims of “green” vs “green-washing.” If we simply stopped purchasing products from any companies whose hands are perhaps not perfectly “green,” we’d have to stop buying altogether! What would really help us make these decisions in a more responsible way would be to provide us with all the data: cost per ton to ship, method of shipping, the *whole* truth about the land where the raw materials are grown/mined/harvested, and so on. To be honest, criticizing Lyptus and accusing Weyerhauser of more or less lying and greenwashing it, when you front for a bamboo supplier, … well. Let’s just say your hands ain’t looking too clean either.

  15. You’r a savvy blogger, I look forward to learning from you on this topic.

  16. Frederico França says:

    I`m from Brazil, I`m also from Espírito Santo. I studied Wood Engineering and master in Wood Products. So, I can`t read all that bullshit many of you wrote, but no one knows everything.
    I will try to explain in few words. Lyptus does not come from indian areas.
    Thoses trees are 100% planted, have FSC and takes 12 to 16 years to cut them down.
    Eucalyptus are exotic in Brazil and the big amount are used for celulose.
    Remember Eucalyptus when you use toilet paper next time.

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