What is MDF?
Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) is an engineered wood panel product composed of refined virgin wood fibers, mixed with resin and wax and pressed into flat sheets under pressure and at elevated temperature. It is mostly used for furniture production and, like plywood, as a building material. It is often confused with particleboard, but MDF is far easier to handle with industrial machinery and it has a smooth surface that is ideal for applying surface finishes or paint.
It is a great product: versatile, strong and cheap. Most of us will come into contact with it daily at work (furniture, shop fittings and construction products) or at home (kitchens, bathrooms or shelving).
MDF is Everywhere
Approximately 1 million tons of MDF are used in the UK every year, 13 million tons in Europe and 25 million tons worldwide. The material has been embedded into furniture, shop fittings and joinery products for over 40 years and so extensive volumes of post consumer waste will need to be processed in the coming years. In a 2009 report (PDF), the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) stated that conservative estimates suggested over 150,000 tons of MDF waste were either disposed of in landfill sites or burnt without energy recovery from the UK furniture sector alone.