PRESS RELEASE: Unilin Pilot Plant and innovative technology herald new level of recyclability for laminate flooring

EPF and Unilin are partners in the Horizon 2020 European project CISUFLO (CIrcular SUstainable FlOor coverings) that has as main goal the transition to ​a sustainable circular flooring sector and is supported by innovation funds from the European Union. The consortium consists of 19 partners: industrial partners, research centres and associations and the project covers laminate, textile and vinyl floor coverings.

Product circularity is key for the preservation of our planet if we want to prevent depletion of our finite resources. Therefore, solutions need to be developed to make current flooring materials circular by design and/or by developing recycling technologies that recycle these products into new similar flooring products.

Nowadays, laminate flooring in particular and all MDF/HDF containing products in general, are often considered as hardly recyclable and such products commonly end in landfills or incineration at the end-of-life. This is an outcome that everyone wishes to change.

In order to close the recycling loop, a revolutionising technology has been developed by Unilin based on steam explosion. This allows the extraction of valuable wood fibres from MDF/HDF containing products (in particular laminate flooring). These fibres are then prepared for reuse and used as a replacement of virgin fibres in an HDF production process. This allows to recycle the main part of a laminate flooring, being the core HDF.

Unilin has spearheaded this initiative by establishing a pilot line at its MDF mill in Bazeilles, France. Since 2021 this line has been refined to the process needs of the recycling process. The actual status is that this line is producing over 1 ton of recycled fibres per hour, and these fibres are immediately reused in the production of new MDF/HDF products on a continuous basis. This rather small recycling unit demonstrates already the huge potential of the developed technology: not only the fact that fibres can be extracted and reused, with no significant impact on quality, but the recycling can be done at economically interesting conditions. In fact, the way the process performs, it even saves electrical/thermal energy compared to the energy required for producing wood fibres based on virgin wood.

This success refutes the sometimes perceived image of MDF/HDF as a non-recyclable product and instead demonstrates its circularity, for which European wood-based panels are known.

For more information:

Geert Coudenys (Unilin): geert.coudenys@unilin.com

Isabelle Henin (EPF): info@europanels.org

PRESS RELEASE: 2024 European Wood-based Panel Symposium releases its Programme

The 13th European Wood-based Panel Symposium (EWBPS) is set to take place on 9-11 October 2024 in the Grand Elysée Hotel in Hamburg. This high-level event attracts participants from around the world (328 delegates from 28 countries attended the last edition in 2022) and aims to foster dialogues, joint efforts, innovation, and growth within the sector through a range of educational sessions, market updates, networking opportunities, technical presentations, and exhibitions. This upcoming edition promises to be an inspiring gathering for professionals involved in the WBP industry.

The Symposium’s comprehensive programme, which is officially released today, sheds light on multidimensional sessions and activities designed to address the latest trends, challenges, and advancements within the industry. Serving as a forum for attendees from Europe and beyond, engaging presentations, insightful panel discussions, and exchange opportunities with peers and industry stakeholders are to be expected.

The 2024 EWBPS will focus on 6 main thematic sessions critical to the WBP industry:

  1. Market
  2. Resources
  3. Artificial Intelligence
  4. Recycling
  5. Resins
  6. Developments

This major event will be opened by Professor Kasal (Fraunhofer WKI) and EPF Technical Director Kris Wijnendaele. EPF Managing Board Member Mr Philipp Sprockhoff will deliver a keynote speech on the overview of the situation of the WBP industry. A total of 17 technical presentations are scheduled during the subsequent technical sessions. Online registration is open via the Symposium website. Early bird registrations are possible by 2 August. Final deadline to register is set on 27 September 2024.

In case of questions, please kindly contact EWBPS@wki.fraunhofer.de

For further information, please contact EPF Secretariat at info@europanels.org

PRESS RELEASE: Pablo Figueroa López Succeeds Martin Brettenthaler as Chairman of the European Panel Federation

Brussels, Thursday 21 March 2024

The European Panel Federation (EPF) announces the appointment of Pablo Figueroa López as its new Chairman, succeeding Martin Brettenthaler. On Wednesday 20 March, Mr Brettenthaler has officially concluded his tenure as Chairman, intertwined with his previous role as SWISS KRONO Group CEO, leaving behind a legacy of transformative leadership and dedication to the industry.

Throughout his mandate, Martin Brettenthaler played a central role in steering EPF towards strategic development and impactful advocacy. Under his leadership, EPF expanded its strategic priorities, fostered inclusivity within the Managing Board, and above all actively engaged with policymakers and industry stakeholders to champion the collective interests of its members.

Reflecting on his departure, Mr Brettenthaler stated: “I am heartened by the progress we have made together in positioning our wood-based panel sector as a role model industry that will play a pivotal role in fighting climate change in European building. I wish my successor Pablo Figueroa wisdom and success in leading this important European trade organisation”.

Pablo Figueroa López will bring a wealth of experience and expertise to his new role as Chairman of EPF. With an academic background in Economics (University of Santiago de Compostela, London Business School (LBS)) and leadership roles related to Exports, Markets and Sales at FINSA, and as a respected leader with the wood-based panel industry, Mr Figueroa López is eager to build upon EPF’s achievements and lead the federation towards a strong future.

In his inaugural statement, the new EPF Chairman expressed his commitment to advancing EPF’s strategic directions and strengthening its position as a key advocate for the industry: “I am honoured to assume this new role and look forward to further working closely with the Board and connecting with relevant stakeholders to drive sustainable growth, modernity, and innovation within the wood-based panel sector”.

For further information, please contact EPF Administration and Communications Officer:

Mrs Isabelle Henin

info@europanels.org

 

EPF Managing Board Member Rui Correia meets Green Deal chief Maroš Šefčovič

In conjunction with the Bioeconomy Changemakers Festival, the 6th clean transition dialogue, chaired by European Commissions’ Executive Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, brought together stakeholders from forest industry associations, academia, NGOs, financial institutions and Commission representatives. The aim of this Dialogue held on 14 March was to address pressing challenges and explore opportunities to unlock the potential of the forest-based bioeconomy. The Commission will provide an update on all the dialogues in a communication scheduled for April.

EPF is proud that Rui Correia (CEO, SONAE ARAUCO), member of our Managing Board, was invited to this meeting, bringing essential messages directly to top echelons of Brussels politics.

On that occasion, we also thank the participants actively engaged in the wood and pulp & paper industries: Ilkka Hämälä (CEO Metsä Group), Hans Sohlström (CEO Stora Enso), Marco Eikelenboom (CEO Sappi Europe) and Juergen Bergner (CEO HS Timber Group).

More information from SONAE ARAUCO is available in this web article

EPF Key messages

  • Cascade Use of Biomass – implementing the RED III legislation as the most resource efficient use of our raw material.
  • Market Mechanisms – Eliminate market distorting subsidies and ensure that woody biomass is used according to its highest economic and environmental added value.
  • Green Industrial Deal – Rebalance the Green Deal so that industry is a European driver and not leakage with production moving overseas.

 

PRESS RELEASE: EU funded EcoReFibre project releases its first Video on increasing MDF and fibreboard recycling at industrial scale

Brussels, Tuesday 27 February 2024

EPF is delighted to share with you the release of the first video presenting the essence of the EcoReFibre project, showcasing the benefits and versatility of wood-based panels and innovative advancements in the recycling of fibreboards.

Funded by Horizon Europe (14.8 million € for the period May 2022 – April 2026), the project undertaken by a consortium of 20 partners, underscores the importance of collaborative research and development in driving positive change within the wood-based panels sector.

EcoReFibre aims to increase available wood resources in Europe through more recycling at industrial scale. Its ambition is to enhance circularity by pushing wood recycling to the next level and improve waste sorting technologies. Substitution up to 25% of the virgin fibres currently used in the European fibreboard market is one of the project’s targets.

Highly promising industry-led pilot demonstrations, involving leading panel manufacturers, are being developed through industrial trials into solid business opportunities creating and increasing economic value, circularity and environmental benefits.

EPF is proud to be part of this consortium and looks forward to further joint efforts towards sustainable solutions and increased circularity in the wood-based panels sector.

For further information, please contact EPF Administration and Communications Officer: Mrs Isabelle Henin (info@europanels.org)

PRESS RELEASE: European Panel Federation signs the Antwerp Declaration for a European Industrial Deal

Brussels, Friday 23 February 2024

The European Panel Federation (EPF) has signed the Antwerp Declaration for a European Industrial Deal. EPF joins 72 leading companies and 34 industry associations representing more than 7.8 million jobs in calling for the Industrial Deal to be put the core of the new European Strategic Agenda for 2024-2029.

A fulfillment of the Antwerp Declaration would allow industry to take its position as a key driver towards a resilient, competitive, and sustainable Europe, that works for all.

A key highlight of this Declaration is its ambition to reindustrialise Europe, positioning Europe as a global leader in sustainable and innovative industry. This message sheds light on the vital role of industry as a driving force for economic growth and job creation, and echoes EPF’s commitments and ambitions as a Role Model Industry. With an annual turnover of about €25 billion and the creation of over 100,000 jobs directly in Europe, our industry is an integral and innovative part of the EU’s bio and circular economies.

The Antwerp Declaration outlines 10 actionable measures, including a streamlining of legislation, and calls for initiatives to position Europe as a global leader in boosting demand for net zero, low carbon and circular products, fostering raw material self-sufficiency, and making the innovation framework smarter.

Signatories represent a broad spectrum of industries from sectors such as chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paper, steel, mining, aluminium, glass, zinc, metals, textiles, ceramics, biotech and now wood too. The Declaration was presented to European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen and to Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo at the European Industry Summit held in Antwerp on 20 February.

As EPF Chairman Martin Brettenthaler stresses: ‘Embracing the Antwerp Declaration, we advocate for placing the European Industrial Deal at the forefront of Europe’s agenda, aligning with EPF’s objectives and strategic directions. By prioritising reindustrialisation, especially with natural, innovative sustainable products such as wood-based panels, we can play a vital role in delivering the European Green Deal’.

For further information, please contact EPF Administration and Communications Officer:

Mrs Isabelle Henin

info@europanels.org

 

EPF Chairman Martin Brettenthaler meeting with President Emmanuel Macron, 16 November 2023

On 16 November, EPF Chairman Martin Brettenthaler was delighted to meet with President Emmanuel Macron during his State visit in Switzerland. Together with five other Swiss CEOs of companies, crucial discussions took place for the business community. This was an excellent opportunity to represent both SWISS KRONO Group and EPF, shedding light on core advocacy messages from the wood-based panel industry.

 Interview by EPF Chairman on Radio Télévision Suisse

PRESS RELEASE: EcoReFibre M18 General Assembly: promising results towards industrial trials

Brussels, 16 November 2023

On 7 and 8 November, the EcoReFibre consortium met in Paris for the M18 General Assembly.

Hosted by FCBA technological institute, the meetings dealt with the project’s main achievements until now, work in progress and next steps.

Insightful presentations on the state of play of each of the work packages and demos as well as technical discussions towards joint efforts related to industrial trials contributing to the project deliverables were at the core of the discussions. Interactive workshops dedicated to demonstration and dissemination/exploitation missions were on the agenda to foster further sharing of knowledge, dialogues and collaboration between partners.

The first test results of lab trials are so positive that partners discussed ways to undertake the industrial trial to succeed in industrialisation of the technologies.

The consortium experts also agreed to expand the work to develop and share best practices and recommendations for improving and developing new collection schemes for clean wood and fibreboard waste at industrial scale for the industry to enable increasing recycling rates.

This General Assembly was also marked by the lab tour of FCBA’s Furniture Department, by the promotion of the projects’ multilingual online survey and by the release of EcoReFibre’s first newsletter. If you are interested in this project, the link to sign up is available here.

PRESS RELEASE: Sharing experiences and developing best practices in the realm of fire and explosion safety in the wood-based panels industry

Brussels, 16 October 2023

On 10 October, 25 experts from EPF member companies met in Leutkirch (Germany) to discuss and develop strategies regarding the latest advancements and best practices in terms of fire and explosion safety. Networking and sharing best practices took centre stage, fostering knowledge and learning exchanges among attendees.

“Safety is of highest priority”, Dr Frank Hermann, CEO of Pfleiderer underlined in his opening address, stressing on the wealth of expertise to help preventing and managing incidents, keeping them as harmless as possible. The day started with insightful presentations by Mr Gonzalo de las Alas-Pumariño and by Mr Timo Gauck from Pfleiderer, a leading player in the engineered WBP industry. The spotlight was on a case study involving an explosion with no injury in a silo and sifter in the factory in Leutkirch which occurred in November 2022. Participants delved into the measures and conclusions drawn from this specific incident, sparking discussions on how this experience could be used to enhance safety protocols in other plants as part of the sector wanting to become a Role Model Industry.

Participants furthermore evaluated contributions gathered from member companies on protection and preventive guidelines, specifically related to screens and air sifters. These will now be further enhanced with the goal to establish an EPF state of the art reference for both processes. In a next step, best practices will also be developed for dry mills, potentially other processes.

Following the meeting, participants visited the areas at Pfleiderer Leutkirch’s facilities where the incident took place. Thanks to this visit, participants had the privilege of witnessing a wide variety of cutting-edge technologies, versatile production and gaining insights into the manufacturing processes, control measures, and most importantly the safety features that underpin the plant’s operations.

The next Task Force meeting will take place online on 7 December. It will be followed by a physical Task Force meeting on 17 and on 18 April 2024, on the kind invitation of EGGER, in Unterradlberg, Austria. This continued collaboration of the Task Force members within the European Panel Federation reaffirms the industry’s commitment to advancing worker safety and constant progress.

About EPF – the European Panel Federation has members in more than 30 European countries and represents the manufacturers of particleboard, MDF, OSB, hardboard, softboard and plywood. The EU wood-based panels industry has an annual turnover of about 25 billion euro and creates over 100,000 jobs directly. Contact us at info@europanels.org.

PRESS RELEASE: EPF applauds cascading use of wood in EU legislation (RED III)

Brussels, 12 October 2023

The European Panel Federation (EPF), representing the European manufacturers of particleboard, MDF, hardboard, softboard and plywood strongly welcomes the cascading use of wood principle being enshrined in EU law. Following adoption by the European Parliament in September, the Council formally adopted the revised text of the Renewable Energy Directive (REDIII) on Monday 9 October.

The legislation not only highlights the importance of wood as a renewable resource but also sheds light on the need for responsible and efficient use and on the strengthening of sustainability criteria, aligned with EPF’s advocacy calls for at least 60% of Europe’s roundwood harvest to go to material use, to be cascaded through multiple cycles, and ultimately incinerated for energy at end of material life. As highlighted in Article 3(3), ‘Member States shall take measures to ensure that energy from biomass is produced in a way that minimises undue distortive effects on the biomass raw material market (…) with a view to ensuring that woody biomass is used according to its highest economic and environmental added value’.

EPF further applauds the key decisions of legislators not to give subsidies for the burning of industrial grade roundwood (IGRW) and to carry out a report by the European Commission on market distortions and the limitation of support schemes by 2027.

By encouraging the cascading use of wood and these takeaways, the legislation supports a circular and resource efficient-oriented approach, which resonates with EPF’s longstanding commitment to optimal use, responsible and sustainable practices within the wood-based panels industry.

EPF represents the European manufacturers of wood-based panels being particleboard, dry process fibreboard (MDF), oriented strand board (OSB), hardboard, softboard and plywood. EPF has members in 30 European countries. The EU wood panel industry has a turnover of about 25 billion euro every year and creates directly over 100,000 jobs. The production of wood-based panels in the EU-27 (+EFTA) in 2022 was an estimated 59.8 million m³. www.europanels.org

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