R&D Projects

Closing the Loop in the MDF Supply Chain
Co-Funded by the UK’s Innovation Agency – Innovate UK. 2nd Open Competition, May 2019 – July 2020

The ambition of this project is significant. MDF has been produced since the 1960s and yet it remains the only wood based product that is currently unrecyclable. The most sustainable outcome for the UK’s estimated circa 400k tons p.a. of MDF waste today is incineration with energy recovery. However, MDF Recovery is a transformational technology that converts a costly and problematic waste stream into a high value natural fibre raw material. This project is also highly ambitious in that it seeks to introduce an innovative approach that supports the concept of circularity in relation to the treatment of MDF at the end of its first user life.

A successful outcome to this project would result in full validation of the MDFR technology in a commercial environment. The demand for the technology is apparent, both in the UK and further afield. The deliverables produced during this work would allow for rapid uptake and exploitation of the technology in the UK. The last remaining technical and commercial barriers would be overcome and the world’s first commercial scale recycling of medium density fibreboard would take place in the UK by 2021/ 2022.

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Part Funded by H2020 SME Instrument, Jan 2019 – June 2019

MDFR was pleased to win a €50k award from the SME Instrument (Phase 1), which supports smaller businesses across the EU to develop their ideas and shape them for future market uptake. Competition is fierce for these grants and success rates can be as low as 1 in 20, meaning that MDFR’s approach to introducing closed loop recycling into the MDF supply chain was considered to be among the best ideas in Europe.

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Medium Density Fibreboard - Enhancing Supply Chain Value
Part Funded by Innovate UK’s Supply Chain Innovation for the Circular Economy Competition, Oct 2014 – Dec 2016

This project was concluded at the end of 2016. It was a highly successful supply chain collaboration between eight industrial and academic partners, which attracted over £500,000 of grant funding from the UK’s Innovation Agency – Innovate UK. The main deliverable from the project was the world’s first continuous process for the recovery of high value wood fibres from end of life medium density fibreboard. A pilot plant was constructed in the UK and has remained operational to the present day. This pilot continues to be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the MDFR recycling process to potential customers from across Europe. The research and development that was undertaken during this project has been instrumental in forging commercial relationships that will accelerate the progress and adoption of the technology at commercial scale. The MDFR technology offers a mature manufacturing sector, worth £31 billion globally, the opportunity to implement closed loop recycling for the first time. The move towards the Circular Economy is an important development for this industry, which produces over 80 million tonnes of product every year, none of which is currently recycled. By supporting this work, Innovate UK has facilitated the opportunity for significant revenue generation and export opportunities for a UK SME.

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