Using Recycled Fibreboard to Make Wood Plastic Composites

WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) has announced the launch of an innovative project to demonstrate whether recycled medium density fibreboard (MDF) can be used in place of virgin wood flour in the manufacture of wood plastic composites (WPCs).

The project, being conducted by Scottish based firm Impact Laboratories, will include an extensive test programme to demonstrate whether the WPCs manufactured with recycled MDF are of comparable quality to WPCs currently available in the market. Furthermore, the project will assess whether it is economically and environmentally beneficial to use recycled MDF, which would otherwise be sent to landfill or incineration.

Gareth Boyles, Manufacturing Development Officer at WRAP comments: “Supporting the development of new processes that enable more materials to be diverted from landfill is essential. Significant amounts of waste MDF are sent to landfill every year and this project aims to show that waste MDF can be a valuable resource in the manufacture of products with a market value. ”

MDF for the trial project will be sourced from the industrial sector, providing an opportunity to replace wood flour, which can be expensive and sometimes difficult to source.

If the project can demonstrate that using recycled MDF is commercially attractive compared to virgin wood flour, then the demand for wood plastic composite products could be further stimulated. Impact Laboratories can also apply their polymer expertise to the design of the WPCs.

These composites will also incorporate recycled plastics, providing a direct comparison with many WPCs on the market.

Existing WPCs can be used in a wide variety of applications such as decking timber, garden furniture and for house cladding panels. The US market for WPCs is already strong and the European market is growing.

Val Rose, Project Manager at Impact Labs comments, “There are proven environmental and economical benefits to be developed and capitalised on by removing scrap MDF from the waste stream. With our expertise in processing and plastics we are working to produce a safe and commercially viable product with a variety of applications and markets.”

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