Professor Andrew Abbott and colleagues at the Department of Chemistry at the University of Leicester in Britain announced the development of the first practical process for manufacturing medium-density fiberboard (MDF). The breakthrough was announced on Oct. 31, 2013, by the Royal Society of London.
Medium-density fiberboard is presently pressed from wood waste using a urea and formaldehyde resin to hold the wood particles together. The formaldehyde content makes recycling MDF impossible so the tons of scrap MDF produced every year are either burned or end up in landfills. Formaldehyde is considered to be potentially carcinogenic.
Over one billion cubic feet of MDF is manufactured every year. The product is used for furniture, retail shelving, and other products. China is the largest producer of MDF in the world.
The researchers developed an equivalent process that makes MDF from a starch resin. The starch resin is completely recyclable. The scrap MDF can be reduced to wood and reused in the same equipment using the same processes as present MDF manufacture uses.
Testing has proven that the starch based MDF is as structurally sound and as long lasting as present MDF. The new process produces a product that is in the same price range as present MDF.
Retail use is one of the largest producers of scrap MDF. The benefit to a retailer of a recyclable MDF is lower costs. Presumably those costs may be passed on to the consumer.