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Wood, recycling and innovation: Ecomaison at the cutting edge

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When we recycle furniture, we mainly recycle wood. That's why wood is such an important material for Ecomaison, the historic eco-organization for the furniture industry. With 760,000 tonnes per year, Ecomaison is the leading supplier of recycled wood in France. Now, with the extension of our activity to the Building Products and Construction Materials (BPCM) sector - where wood is predominantly present - the volumes to be recycled are constantly increasing.
An update on this material, with Ambre Le Ferrec, Head of Innovation, Research & Development, Wood and wood derivatives expert at Ecomaison.

You hold a position at Ecomaison specifically dedicated to wood. What kind of innovations do you support?

Today, wood is recycled exclusively in the form of chipboard. We are pursuing two lines of research:

  • We're exploring innovations around the recycling of medium-density fiberboard (MDF), which makes up much of the furniture on the market. For the time being, this material is not recyclable, but our latest work shows that solutions are technically viable. It is possible to incorporate it into insulation products such as wood wool, or, in a minority proportion, into particleboard.
  • We are also working to improve the preparation of wood particles from end-of-life particleboard. The aim is to increase the rate of integration into new panels and thus amplify the circularity of wood.

In addition, as far as the building industry is concerned, some of the wood we collect at the end of its life may have been used for decades, but may contain chemical substances which are now considered to be recycling disruptors.... We are therefore investigating different techniques to better identify these substances, sort and redirect the volumes concerned towards the right treatments, while preserving good recyclability for untreated wood.

Always the sorting challenge...

Yes, always! The better we sort, the better we orientate. And correct orientation increases the chances of wood being recycled to its full potential. 

How do you support innovation?

Every two years, Ecomaison launches a call for innovation projects to identify new ways of recycling and recovering end-of-life products. This consultation is open to all types of project (from the very least to the most mature) and concerns all materials handled by our structure (wood, metal, foam, plastics, textiles, etc.).
Through this scheme, Ecomaison has supported over 30 project leaders over the last 10 years.

At the same time, we have a program - Innovation For Eco-Design - dedicated to our members, to support them in their eco-design initiatives and optimize the environmental impact of the products they bring to market. Its aim is to create synergies between innovators we select from all over the world and our members.

Discover Innovation Day

What are the challenges for tomorrow?

The main challenge for the future is, of course, to make a reasoned and controlled transition from a linear economy to a circular economy, which will enable better optimization of available resources at the lowest carbon "cost".

This requires an unprecedented increase in recycling, but not only that. Reuse, repair and extending the useful life of products and materials are essential vectors for achieving these objectives.

Finally, there is also the issue of independence and autonomy in the use of our resources, which means relocating industries that consume materials to recycle or recover them in France. It is thanks to this investment in innovation that we intend to meet this challenge.

Do you talk much with our European neighbors? 

Yes, to convey the unique voice of France, which, it should be noted, is a few steps ahead of its European neighbors on the subject of materials recycling and circularity. We have to admit that we are acting as an experimental laboratory for many of our neighbors, who are increasingly interested in these initiatives, such as the furniture reuse and recycling network we set up over 10 years ago. These exchanges help us to progress collectively. 

We have a strong responsibility to our members: to provide them with all the knowledge they need to reduce the environmental impact of their products and services.

Read also

Découvrez un article plus complet sur le recyclage du bois sur WoodPartners.com

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