The Unilin group claims a world first

Wood is a renewable product and stores CO2 until it is incinerated. Thus, the longer the wood can be used and reused, the more our climate benefits. For the manufacture of its MDF and HDF panels, Unilin Group, a world reference in interior architecture and building, deliberately opts for the use of reclaimed and recycled wood.

Until now, it was technically impossible to recycle the 100 million m3 of MDF and HDF panels produced each year around the world. The Unilin Group, headquartered in Flanders, has now developed a unique and innovative technology to recover the wood fiber from these panels in an economically viable way and reuse them for the production of high quality fiberboards on an industrial scale. . Ultimately, this innovation will enable the Unilin Group to conserve 380,000 tonnes of CO2 per year stored in the wood fiber, which benefits from a second life thanks to this new technology.

Missing link in a sustainable concept

MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) and HDF (High Density Fibreboard) are commonly used in the furniture industry, in interior decoration and for the production of laminate floors. Unilin Panels, the division of the Unilin Group that produces panels, deliberately chooses to use reclaimed wood for its production. This is waste wood or wood which is no longer usable and which is therefore saved from incineration. This means that the Unilin Group does not cut trees for production in the first place, but is able to extend the life of the waste with a new application. Today, Unilin Group is taking things to the next level.

Véronique Hoflack, pictured, president of Unilin Panels, herself at the origin of the new recycling technology, explains: end-of-life fiberboard waste. This means that the lion’s share is cremated after use (on average 14 to 20 years). We have now succeeded in developing an innovative new process to recycle these wood fibers and reuse them for the production of new panel materials. For example our decorative Evola panels or our Quick-Step laminate floors. This new technology doubles the life of wood fibers! This longer lifespan will give new trees the ability to grow and, in turn, store CO2. A big step forward towards circularity.

Circularity in our DNA

The development of this revolutionary new technology fits perfectly into the sustainable development strategy of the Unilin Group, which underlines the company’s commitment to contribute to the achievement of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5. ° C. The Unilin Group considers its commitment to innovation as a prerequisite for achieving these ambitious goals. Over the next two years, the group will invest an additional 160 million euros in Belgium, among other things in research and development.

Bernard Thiers, in the photo, CEO of Unilin Group: “Circularity has been embedded in the DNA of Unilin Group since day one. In 1960, we started as a flax particle board manufacturer and developed a solution for the waste from the local flax industry. Already back then, we saw the challenges of reusing materials as an opportunity and still do today. With our new technology, we can now completely close the loop for our MDF and HDF panels (the basis of the Quick-Step laminate). This development is fully in line with our strategy of sustainable raw materials consisting of using 100% recovered or recycled wood and maximizing the lifespan of the wood.

In the initial phase, the Unilin group will use the technology for recycling the materials used internally at the Bazeilles production site, where the group is used to investing in advanced technology for the production of MDF and HDF panels. In the next phase, the production capacity will be increased to also allow the recycling of fiberboards and laminate floors harvested outside. This technology, which has since been patented, is an absolute world first. The objective is to replace at least 25% of the Unilin Group’s raw material mix with recycled fibers by 2030. Ultimately, this will allow the Unilin Group to keep 380,000 tonnes of CO2 per year stored in wood fiber. which benefits from a second life thanks to this new technology.

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About Gertrude H. Kerr

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