MDF Recovery Ltd has developed an innovative and effective process to recover fibre from waste MDF. Virgin wood supplies are under pressure worldwide as demand escalates and supplies are stretched. Rising prices and uncertainty of supply, combined with increasing pressures to maintain standing forests are challenging every element of the wood processing sector.
Recycled fibre (rMDF) from waste MDF offers a novel, low energy and reliable source of feedstock for MDF manufacturers and other high value applications including thermal insulation.
MDF is everywhere
Currently over 75 million tonnes are produced each year across the globe, with production volumes increasing by ~4.5% each year.
Significant volumes of waste are generated as new MDF boards are converted into products such as furniture and shop fittings. More material enters the waste stream at the end of its first user life. Far too much of this waste is sent to landfill or incinerated (with or without energy recovery).
MDFR’s technology makes a real difference. As an example, by providing the technology to recycle 45 million tonnes of waste MDF instead of incineration, 5 million tonnes of CO2 will be prevented from entering the atmosphere, the equivalent of 2.8 million flights from London to Sydney.
Shift towards a circular economy
MDFR’s technology closely aligns with a global shift towards Zero Waste:
Targeting and extracting specific MDF waste from mixed wood waste streams is both labour intensive and technically challenging. Furthermore, given the historic reputation of MDF as an unrecyclable material, industries and consumers have had little incentive to segregate MDF at source for recycling. However, the wood waste landscape is changing and MDF is being considered a nuisance more than ever.
For the particleboard industry, which is on a mission to increase its recycled content, MDF’s inclusion can affect the quality of the boards and the machinery which processes it. For the biomass industry, its high resin content creates additional emissions. Now that MDFR’s technology exists, there is a greater impetus to segregate MDF waste stream for higher value and more sustainable applications
MDF Recovery Ltd has developed an innovative and effective process to recover wood fibre from waste MDF.
The process takes offcut/otherwise waste MDF and, through electrical heating technology, effectively separates the fibres from the resin.
Independent studies have confirmed that the recovered fibres are of the same high quality as virgin wood fibre and are perfectly suited for reintegration back into the MDF production process and as a feedstock to manufacturers of insulation products, peat-replacement products and formable packing materials.
• offers an effective recycling solution for the waste processing industry
• recovers high quality wood fibre from waste MDF which can in turn be used to produce new MDF and other construction materials such as thermal insulation
• produces an eco-friendly alternative to mineral wool, glass fibre and plastics for thermal insulation materials
• provides an energy-efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to landfill and incineration for waste MDF.
The UK’s first commercial scale MDF recycling facility is under construction and MDFR are currently in discussions to license its technology worldwide.
MDF Recovery’s innovative processing technology is patented and enables the recovery of high-quality wood fibres from waste MDF. It produces wood fibres predominantly in the range of 0.5mm – 3mm; the same high quality as virgin wood fibre. [Read the independent report about the MDF fibre quality from MDF Recovery’s process here].
The process is scalable and suits a wide range of throughputs; from 0.5 tonnes per hour to > 5 tonnes per hour.
The fibres meet the technical specifications for re-integration into medium density fibreboard manufacture and can be supplied in commercially relevant volumes. They can be introduced into production lines operating both traditional resination processes and also dry blending technology.
Our process does not use chemicals and is more cost-efficient, energy-saving and environmentally friendly than landfill or burning – the current solutions for disposal of waste MDF.
Continuous, innovative research and development has been, and continues to be, essential to achieve MDFR’s mission to become the world’s first technology to achieve the effective recycling of MDF.
Progress from bench scale, then laboratory scale research and development, to proof of concept at 150kg/hr has been steady.
The company’s original prototype facility has now been moved to its new home in Wythenshawe, Manchester. The move to new premises offered the company the chance to upgrade and improve key equipment and processes, reducing power requirements and enhancing processing efficiency.
R&D continues apace with current activity focused on waste and end-of-life MDF sorting technology, feedstock delivery systems, scaling-up flow to 750kg/hour and beyond, drying technology and continued process efficiencies. As innovation and development continues, so, too, does MDFR’s extensive patent portfolio.
The demand for MDF continues to grow by at least 4.5% per year. Prominent territories include the UK, Continental Europe, USA, Russia, Brazil and China. Over 75 million tonnes are produced globally per year, with up to 5% of material wasting during the manufacturing process. Additional waste is generated during the conversion of MDF sheets into commercial products.
MDFR’s technology recovers high quality fibre from MDF waste and off-cuts:
• supply of material for production of new MDF
• improving productivity
• enhancing security of supply
• boosting margins
• satisfying the growing need for eco-friendly building materials
The combination of climate change reduction targets, rising energy costs and extreme weather is creating a boom in the demand for insulation products.
There are many types of insulation, and increasingly the sustainability of insulation materials is factored into a purchaser’s decision making. Estimated growth for this market is approximately 6% CAGR until 2026.
This market has been dominated for years by glass fibre and mineral wool products which exhibit good in-service performance. There is increasing concern however, over the energy required to manufacture these materials, a process which requires temperatures up to 1600oC. In addition, the environmental impacts of both production and end of life of other insulation materials such as EPS (expandable polystyrene) and foamed polyurethanes are significant.
The recovered fibres from MDF Recovery’s process can replace or reduce the use of such materials in a wide variety of insulation applications. Products produced from fibres are particularly well suited to the growing modular (offsite construction) manufacturing techniques employed within the sector.
Recycled wood fibres from MDF Recovery offer a more sustainable option whilst retaining the high standards of protection against heat, cold and noise. The fibres are suitable for inclusion in rigid; semi-rigid or loose fill insulation products.
The waste management industry will play a vital role in ensuring that end of life MDF finds its way into new, high value products and markets.
MDF has always been considered a problematic waste stream, unloved by the particleboard sector or biomass to energy plants, the two key outlets for waste wood in the UK. Fibreboard does, however, end up in mixed wood waste streams as there is no other route for its sustainable disposal. Fibreboards constitute between 10% and 15% of the total wood waste arisings in Europe and this ratio is growing in parallel to the growth in the manufacture of MDF.
The development of MDFR’s technology opens up new, sustainable end of life options for waste MDF. Technological advances now allow for the inline separation of MDF away from other waste wood types, which also creates higher quality feedstock for the particleboard sector. Segregation of waste MDF at source in commercial environments will reduce handling costs even further and should be encouraged in order to provide consistent and reliable raw material for future MDF recycling plants.
MDFR is keen to work with those that generate waste MDF and those that handle it and wish to add value to it.
Address: MDF Recovery Ltd Unit 5, Sidcup Road Roundthorn Industrial Estate Wythenshawe Manchester M23 9PH UK
Tel: + 44 (0)7803 607 087