Transformational recycling technology from Unilin Panels reclaims wood fibre from HDF and MDF and gives it a second life.

MDF and HDF boards are commonly used in furniture and interior design, yet it has been impossible to recover and recycle them for reuse. Unilin Panels is beginning its journey to change this, reclaiming the wood fibres from HDF and MDF in a viable way for reuse in the production of high-quality fibreboards. Over time, it will lock-in 380,000 tons of CO2 per year in the circular production of fibreboards.

In the initial phase of onboarding technology, Unilin will use it for internal recycling at its Bazeilles production site, which has a history of cutting-edge production technology. Production capacity will gradually be increased to allow the recycling of externally sourced fibreboards and laminate floors with the goal to replace at least 25% of raw material with recycled fibres by 2030. This patented technology is a world-first and part of a wider investment programme in sustainable technology and initiatives, including a further €160m investment for projects over the next two years.

Véronique Hoflack, president of Unilin Panels, says: “Because of the use of adhesives as a binding agent for the wood fibres, no industrially viable method existed to recycle the fibres from fibreboard waste at the end of their product life. That means that the lion’s share is incinerated after use (on average 14-20 years).

“We have now succeeded in developing a new and innovative process to recycle these wood fibres and reuse them for the production of new panel material. For example our decorative Evola panels or Quick-Step laminate floors. This new technology doubles the life of the wood fibres. This longer life will give new trees the chance to grow and, in turn, store CO2. A major step forward towards circularity.”

Unilin Panels already uses 100% recovered wood for the production of its MDF and HDF. This is wood sourced from waste streams of the timber industry and low-grade timber from sustainable forest management and roadside maintenance. The new technology will combine with this recovered wood for production that moves closer to being truly circular.