In today’s interconnected world, the wood-based panels manufacturing industry, like many others, faces significant challenges from misinformation and disinformation. These issues can have substantial impacts on businesses, affecting everything from public perception to regulatory compliance and market dynamics. Understanding these challenges and learning how to navigate them is crucial for industry stakeholders.

Understanding misinformation and disinformation

Misinformation refers to false or inaccurate information spread without malicious intent. Disinformation, on the other hand, involves deliberately spreading false information to deceive. Both forms of misleading information can severely impact the wood-based panels industry, affecting market confidence, consumer behaviour, and policy-making.

The impact of misinformation on the wood-based panels industry

1. Environmental Concerns and Sustainability

One of the most prevalent areas of misinformation in the wood-based panels industry revolves around environmental concerns and sustainability practices. The industry is often criticised for deforestation and unsustainable practices, sometimes based on outdated or inaccurate information.

Case in Point: Certification Confusion

Certifications like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) are designed to ensure sustainable practices. However, misinformation about what these certifications entail can confuse consumers and businesses. For instance, some may falsely believe that non-certified products are always unsustainable, which is not necessarily the case.

2. Health and Safety Myths

Health and safety misinformation can also significantly impact the industry. Concerns about formaldehyde emissions from wood-based panels, for example, have led to widespread public fear, often exacerbated by incorrect information.

Debunking Myths: Formaldehyde Emissions

While it is true that formaldehyde is used in some wood products, the industry has made significant strides in reducing emissions to safe levels. Regulatory bodies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) have stringent standards in place to protect consumers. However, persistent myths can lead to a loss of consumer confidence and sales.

Disinformation and its strategic implications

Disinformation can be strategically used by competitors or activists to damage the reputation of companies or the industry as a whole. This malicious intent can cause long-term harm, affecting not only sales but also investor confidence and regulatory scrutiny.

1. Competitor Disinformation Campaigns

In highly competitive markets, some companies may resort to disinformation to undermine their rivals. False claims about product quality, environmental impact, or corporate practices can create significant hurdles.

Example: Product Quality Misrepresentation

Imagine a scenario where a competitor spreads false information about the quality of a company’s wood panels, claiming they are prone to warping or breaking. Even if these claims are baseless, they can cause customers to switch to other brands, leading to a loss of market share.

2. Activist Disinformation

Environmental activists, while often well-intentioned, can sometimes spread disinformation to push their agendas. This can include exaggerating the environmental impacts of wood panel manufacturing or misrepresenting the practices of specific companies.

Case Study: Exaggerated Environmental Impact Claims

There have been instances where environmental groups have released reports exaggerating the deforestation impacts of wood panel production. These reports, if not critically examined, can lead to increased regulatory pressure and negative public perception.

Navigating the misinformation and disinformation landscape

1. Proactive Communication

One of the most effective strategies to combat misinformation and disinformation is proactive communication. Companies should engage in transparent communication with stakeholders, including customers, investors, and regulators.

Developing a Communication Plan

A robust communication plan involves regular updates about the company’s practices, sustainability efforts, and product safety measures. Using multiple channels, such as social media, press releases, and industry conferences, can help reach a wider audience.

2. Collaboration with Industry Associations

Industry associations can play a crucial role in addressing misinformation and disinformation. By working together, companies can present a united front and amplify their message.

Joint Initiatives and Advocacy

Joint initiatives such as industry-wide sustainability programmes or public education campaigns can be more effective than isolated efforts. These initiatives can help set the record straight and build a positive image for the industry.

3. Engaging with Regulators

Building strong relationships with regulators can help ensure that policies are based on accurate information and realistic assessments of industry practices.

Regulatory Advocacy and Transparency

Regularly engaging with regulatory bodies to provide data and insights into industry practices can prevent the spread of misinformation. Transparency in operations and compliance with regulations also build trust with these bodies.

4. Leveraging Technology

Technology can be a powerful tool in combating misinformation. Monitoring social media and other online platforms can help identify and address false information quickly.

Social Media Monitoring Tools

Using tools to monitor mentions of the company and industry on social media can help identify trends and address false information before it spreads widely. Additionally, search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques can ensure that accurate information ranks higher in search results than misinformation.

5. Educating Stakeholders

Education is a long-term strategy that involves informing all stakeholders about the realities of the wood-based panels industry.

Workshops and Training Programmes

Hosting workshops and training programmes for employees, suppliers, and customers can help disseminate accurate information. These programmes can cover topics such as sustainability practices, health and safety standards, and product quality.

The role of media in shaping perceptions

The media plays a significant role in shaping public perceptions of the wood-based panels industry. Journalists and industry analysts must ensure their reports are based on accurate information and avoid sensationalism.

1. Responsible Reporting

Journalists covering the industry should prioritise fact-checking and provide balanced views. This includes seeking input from industry experts and avoiding reliance on single sources of information.

Building Relationships with Journalists

Companies can benefit from building relationships with journalists and providing them with resources and access to industry experts. This can help ensure that media coverage is well-informed and accurate.

2. Industry Publications and Platforms

Industry-specific publications and platforms can also help counter misinformation by providing accurate and detailed information about industry practices and trends.

Publishing In-Depth Reports and Articles

By publishing in-depth reports and articles, industry publications can provide a comprehensive view of the challenges and opportunities in the wood-based panels sector. This can help inform stakeholders and counteract misinformation.


Misinformation and disinformation pose significant challenges to the wood-based panels manufacturing industry. By understanding these challenges and adopting proactive strategies, companies can mitigate the impacts and ensure that stakeholders have access to accurate information. This involves a combination of proactive communication, collaboration with industry associations, engagement with regulators, leveraging technology, and educating stakeholders. Furthermore, responsible media coverage and industry publications play a crucial role in shaping public perceptions. By addressing misinformation and disinformation effectively, the wood-based panels industry can build a stronger, more resilient reputation and continue to thrive in an increasingly complex information landscape.