Tomra and IKEA highlight future of wood recycling in webcast

The presenters of Tomra’s webcast

On 27 Oct 2022, Tomra Recycling held a live webcast entitled “The future of wood recycling”. During a 45-minute live-stream, Tomra’s wood recycling team and a material specialist from IKEA outlined how a circular economy for wood can become a reality and a profitable business case for the panel industry.

The presenters included Jose Matas, segment manager wood at Tomra, Murat Sanli, wood sales engineer at Tomra, and Jan-Olof Fechter, material expert and technique engineer at IKEA Sweden. The three provided an overview of the status quo of the market, challenges, and solutions to bring wood full circle.

Matas kicked off the session by explaining current market trends influenced by the energy crisis in Europe, the impacts of climate change, and industry’s increased reliance on recycled content in order to meet its sustainability targets.

“The energy crisis is hitting hard on us in Europe. Many households turn to wood as an alternative heating source, therefore further driving up the already record-high demand for wood,” highlighted Matas. “Combined with the general lack of materials on the market, sourcing wood in sufficient volumes and qualities has become increasingly difficult and at all-time high prices.”

To access material and maintain profitable operations, the panelboard industry has recognised the possibilities a circular treatment for wood offers.

Following Matas, Jan-Olof Fechter outlined how IKEA incorporates sustainability and recycling into its business and what the company’s long-term goals regarding recycled content look like.

“To date, only 1% of furniture is reused, but 99% which is equal to 800,000 metric tonnes of furniture is recycled. These figures prove that recycling processes are in place and already supporting us on our way to producing greener products. However, there is still untapped potential we must start to access,” explained Fechter.

Fechter also declared IKEA’s future recycled content targets for panelboards and medium-density and high-density fibreboards (MDF and HDF) boards for the future. Whereas in 2020, panelboards were made of 25% recycled content and MDF and HDF panels consisted of virgin material only, in 2025 IKEA targets to increase the amount of recycled content in panelboards to 56% and for MDF or HDF boards to 9%.

The last presenter, Sanli, explained how a holistic approach can maximize recycled wood content: “To exploit the full potential of recycled wood, we must concentrate on three pillars: the collection, sorting, and recycling of waste wood.”

Recovering individual wood fractions requires extensive cleaning and sorting processes because waste wood consists of numerous different materials including contaminants and different types of wood like oriented strand board (OSB), MDF, and plywood to coated materials and recyclable non-processed fractions.

Sanli therefore suggested that using smart technologies throughout the sorting process can give plant operators a three-fold competitive edge: They can recover wood by type as per their requirements, realise high throughputs, and achieve purity levels that cannot be achieved with conventional technology.

The recording of the webcast is available for viewing on Tomra’s website now.