It is NOT Chemical-Free

By Michael Edmonds 03/10/2012

Today the Christchurch Press contained an advertising supplement for the University of Canterbury which included articles on various types of research being carried out there. One such area of research is work by Professor Shusheng Pang who in collaboration with various other groups including Scion, AgResearch and Mastaguard has been working on a new building material made from radiata pine sawdust and recycled plastics. The article points out that this new material “could potentially substitute chemically treated timber in some applications.” All very good.

But why oh why in the article do they have to describe this as being a giant step closer to living in “chemical-free” homes. The term “chemical-free” is a rather meaningless phrase which has more to do with marketing than science. The plastics certainly consist of chemicals, as does the sawdust. There were so many other better turns of phrase they could have used – “environmentally friendly” certainly would have fitted the bill and would have been a good “selling point”.

Alternatively, perhaps it is time to give up and concede that the marketing guru’s have won, turning a meaningless phrase into something that most people consider meaningful?