Pranil Chandra November 11, 2021Speak to a Print Expert
As businesses around the world work to be more sustainable, “greener” options are becoming a favoured solution amongst business owners and marketing teams. Manufacturers and suppliers are pivoting to eco-friendly products thanks to the rising demand, which means that all environmental catastrophes are halted and the world can breathe a sigh of relief.
Only, the story isn’t that simple.
Many products that bill themselves as eco-friendly still wind up as trash, pollute our air or contain chemicals that seep into our groundwater. In fact, attractive terms like, “Made of 100% recycled material,” can be just as misleading as when products label themselves asorganic.
This problem extends to the materials that can go into an exhibition or point-of-sale display. Claims of sustainability abound now that brands and artists recognise the importance of proving themselves planet-conscious.
In this article, we’ll be exploring the distinction between truly sustainable materials with materials that fall short of the mark. Specifically, we’ll take a look at how medium-density fibreboard (MDF) fares against Re-Board® so that you can make an informed decision on what products will best suit your needs and sustainability goals.
Medium-density fibreboard is a popular construction material made from recycled chunks of wood and binding agents, which are all subjected to high pressure and temperatures. Since its development in the USA back in the 1960s, MDF has become a very popular material used everywhere from furniture and flooring to pop-up exhibition displays.
Your average MDF board is low-cost, sturdier than particle board, and can be manufactured to resemble wood as if harvested directly from a tree. You’ll also encounter a lot of suppliers who play up the fact that its primary component is recycled wood.
Re-Board® is a relatively new player in the market for construction materials and was first engineered in the 90s by Swedish inventor Karl-Gustav Ericsson. It’s a uniquely strong and versatile material created exclusively using wood from FSC-certified forests: logging operations that were vetted by independent bodies and deemed to be fully sustainable.
A greater number of marketers and artists are growing aware of the board and its potential. Recent years have seen big names like Sephora, Adidas, Puma, Fossil, Calvin Klein and Vivienne Westwood turn to Re-Board® as their choice material for creating installations, structures, and yes — even furniture.
Strength and sustainability are major features of the branding behind Re-Board®, which makes it a strong contender in the market for eco-friendly crafting materials.
Both products work recycling into their identity. MDF makes the accurate claim that all wood used in its production is recycled, which at a glance would make the material seem like a prime choice for eco-friendliness..
However, there are a number of factors that make Re-Board® the more environmentally safe pick out of the two.
With Re-Board®, consumers can rest assured that the forestry involved is performed responsibly thanks to certification by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This means that the material is created with no long-term forest depletion involved, but rather meaningful efforts to regrow trees as wood is harvested.
Conversely, the fact that MDF is made of recycled wood doesn’t mean it’s necessarily eco-friendly.
To fully explain why this is the case, we need to understand that the criteria for what makes a material recyclable are more complex than you may think. Not all paper and wood products are recyclable — many are created or treated using chemicals that make it impossible to recycle them into something useful.
Unfortunately, MDF falls under this category because the vast majority of MDF in production uses formaldehyde for binding. It’s a well-known hazard that underlies the material that prevents it from being safely recycled.
Even despite the fact that formaldehyde-free MDF is in the process of being innovated, many recycling centres in Australia accept MDF due to the high risks that come with contamination. Most of the material winds up in landfills after use — where the formaldehyde eventually seeps into the earth and can find its way into groundwater.
MDF is far from being a sustainable product despite being created from recyclable materials. It’s a frustrating fact to be sure, but one that decision-makers need to keep in mind as they scan the market for materials to fit their needs.
Re-Board®, on the other hand, is 100% recyclable back into paper since the water-based adhesive that goes into the board is easily soluble and much safer for the environment. It’s so easy to recycle, in fact, that we at Next Printing go the extra mile and commit to a higher degree of involvement with the process.
In order to cut costs, some waste management centres will lump paper in along with general waste, contaminating it with non-recyclable trash and preventing it from being recycled. At this stage, the only viable outcome is that the paper goes into a landfill, and then decomposes instead of cycling back into a circular economy.
Since there’s no guarantee that the average waste management facility will sort paper responsibly, we’ve partnered with Remondis to create a strict recycling program to ensure that our wood and paper products make it to the recycling step.
With the Next and Remondis partnership in place, we can ensure that all Re-Board® is properly bailed and then sold to a business that will ensure it’s recycled. From there, can be used to create new products such as corrugated boxes for packaging.
As the saying goes, “Not all that glitters is gold,” – so too is not all that is advertised as “green” is eco-friendly. We all have a part to play in raising the bar for sustainability and supporting business practices that preserve the planet instead of ruining it.
Taking the time to understand the difference between hype and genuine sustainability will go a long way towards establishing your commitment to sustainability. Stay informed, be proactive, and bet on options like Re-Board® the next time you’re in the market for sustainable printing options.
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