Increase the proportion of post-consumer recycled wood used1 to 50%, by 2025.
To be more sustainable we must do everything we can to contribute to the ‘circular economy’, whereby nothing is wasted – i.e. end-of-life wood products become valued raw materials rather than waste in landfill sites. We want all wood products, including our own, to be repurposed. Circularity runs deep at Pfleiderer. Our cascade use system means that some 85% of our raw material is residues and recycled wood. The remaining 15% comprises logging by-products. This target is all about increasing the amount of recycled wood we source from post-consumer sources3. Recycled wood is defined here as ‘post-consumer reclaimed material and ex-factory returns’. It includes broken pallets from the packaging industry and old household furniture and kitchen cabinets, for example.
Our performance and target 4
|Recycled wood (in kt)||537||567||546||702||773|
|Total wood (in kt)||1,411||1,346||1,355||1,521||1,546|
3 ISS ESG provided a second party audit in March 2021 that affirms the sustainability credibility of our recycled wood metric, and our alignment with recognized sustainable finance principles. ISS ESG is one of the world’s leading independent sustainability research, analysis and rating firms.
4 This target concerns post-consumer material and internal rejects and returns. Pre-consumer wood comprises sawmill residues such as sawdust, off-cuts, trims and shavings.
The volume of this material available to us is affected by reuse and recycling initiatives in the European Union, economic development, patterns of consumer behaviour and furniture retailers reclaiming used furniture. In 2020 we used over half a million tonnes of it, and we commit to increase this by nearly ten percentage points.
Our strategic approach to sustainability includes engagement with others to help us achieve the target. If we can help influence the behaviour of consumers and businesses, then we may see increased availability of post-consumer wood.
While we want to obtain greater quantities of recycled wood, we also insist on using only the highest quality materials. Our boards are regularly tested in our central lab in Arnsberg, and we work with our suppliers to achieve 100% compliance with product quality rules.
“We want wood to be used in products before it is ultimately burned a long way down the line – this generates more value to society and the economy.”
Director, Wood Procurement
IN 2020, WE USED OVER HALF A MILLION TONNES OF RECYCLED WOOD IN OUR PRODUCTS.
Meanwhile, our ‘recycled wood yield’ – a key quality indicator – is constantly improving: in 2020 we achieved a close-to-perfect yield rate of 90%5. Furthermore, we process wood-derived recycled products in line with the Waste Wood Ordinance in Germany to ensure quality products with near-zero mineral, metallic, chemical and organic contaminants. Only wood classed at grade A1 or A2 under the Waste Wood Ordinance becomes post-consumer recycled material in our panels.
Recycled wood use and high standards of quality, product recognition and a strong operational culture all combine to deliver the perfect product.
5 100% yield is not physically possible, there will always be some unwanted items in recycled wood inputs.
Sorting, cleaning and testing recycled wood
Our yield rate is an expression of the quality of our main raw material: recycled wood. As the material comes into the plant we want to minimise all losses of material as we clean it. The very high yield rate achieved at our sites (an average of 90%) is down to our consistent investment in state-of-the- art technology. Our sorting and cleaning processes, supplier relationships, and rigorous testing are key to our success. The ‘sorting tower’ (see graphic) aims to ensure no unwanted materials, such as plastics, arise in our production lines. Indeed, we are pushing the boundaries of yield maximisation: the high number of sorting processes in our towers means increasingly finer fractions of raw material become available to us. In effect, we are reducing our reliance on fresh wood by-products by using recycled wood fibres as many times as possible.
Recycled wood yield in 2020
How we ensure product quality
Maintain at 100% the share of forest-derived materials from suppliers verified as operating in alignment with requirements from the FSC and the PEFC.
In the sustainable wood cascade, we apply only the highest standards when sourcing materials, no tree is intentionally felled, and our suppliers are subject to demanding selection criteria. Around three million tonnes of wood and 9,000 tonnes of decor paper are processed by Pfleiderer each year.
All of it is from well-managed certified forests, recycled materials and other controlled sources, travelling a maximum of 250 kilometres (linear distance) to be processed. More than 500 active suppliers, ranging from small-scale regional forest owners, sawmills and recycling companies to international operators, ensure constant deliveries to our plants.
Since 2007, we have consistently achieved annual compliance with FSC and PEFC ‘chain of custody’ certification requirements. The whole process, including third-party audit and opinion, means a very low probability that any wood we use is from poorly managed forests.
We aim to ensure that, at a minimum, suppliers align with FSC or PEFC requirements; full annual certification is optional. In the future new sources and suppliers will be needed, and as recycled and residual wood markets evolve, our processes will do the same. If our suppliers do not adhere to FSC and PEFC requirements, we will not do business with them.
The FSC and PEFC seals of approval cover the Chain of Custody (CoC) for products containing wood fibre.
What do FSC and PEFC cover?
The Chain of Custody certification is a mechanism to prove responsible sourcing from forest to end-user. It ensures that materials and products have been checked at every stage of processing so that customers purchasing FSC or PEFC labelled products can be confident that they are genuinely certified.
A certified product designation means that processed virgin material either originates in certified forests or is verified as having a low probability of containing fibre from illegally harvested wood, wood harvested in violation of traditional and human rights, wood harvested from forests in which high conservation values are threatened by management activities, wood from forests being converted to plantations or non-forest use and wood from forests in which genetically modified trees are planted.
Reclaimed materials are acceptable under these certification systems, enabling us to gain value from what some consider to be waste, and ensuring the wood is put to good use before becoming fuel for process heat and power.
Combining low-emission products with responsibly sourced materials
DECOBOARD P2 is a urea-resin bonded particleboard with decorative melamine facing on both faces. It has achieved several accolades, including Cradle to CradleTM Bronze, the QGHW Premium Quality label and the coveted ‘Blue Angel’ award. This is the end result of all the behind-the-scenes work we do to ensure all suppliers of the materials in our certified products respect the demanding certification requirements.
Decoboard is perfect for hygienic food preparation, given that the melamine facing undergoes formal anti-microbial testing.
Sustainable innovation: at least 10% of our chipboard products, by volume, will be manufactured using bio-based resins, by 2025.
All Pfleiderer products are made using materials and production processes which comply fully with environmental and health regulations.
Each year, we use around 250,000 tonnes of resins, binders, additives, and lacquers. Such ingredients are very commonly used in our industry, and our manufacturing processes which emit VOCs, dust or odour, present a very low risk of fugitive emissions and are conducted in sealed units.
Our performance and target
|Indicator||2020||Target 2022||Target 2025|
|Sustainable formulation used in resin binders for at least 10% of chipboard products, by volume||at least 10%|
We have made strong progress on reducing the use of formaldehyde in our product range and, whilst we use chemical ingredients, we have been shipping formaldehyde-free boards for decades. Now, we are trialling alternative, biologicallybased binders in the gluing process for chipboard, our dominant product by volume. We want to boost to 100% the volume shipped of chipboard that contains such alternative binders.
Product safety and integrity are vitally important: all materials and ingredients at all stages of processing and refinement are ‘theoretically’ safe, but that is not good enough for us. Our central laboratory in Arnsberg tests all materials for unwanted constituents, and measures formaldehyde emissions in our own test chambers to guarantee product safety. This target will enable us to ensure that the right products will be widely available to meet demand in the near future.
Once shipped, wood panels must meet certain consumer health regulations relating to their use-phase. Ours are fully compliant, and indeed meet the requirements of at least one of the following: the famous Blue Angel and Nordic Swan labels; the California Air Resource Board; TSCA7; the Japanese Industry Standard ‘F****’, and the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Products Program. Our products also come with sector-level Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) documentation for customers wanting detail on ingredients.
All Pfleiderer products are made in Germany using state-of-the-art processes and technology, within an integrated management system for quality, environment, energy and safety.
7 Toxic Substances Control Act, 2016, USA.
Enabling sustainable construction
High quality, durable products that meet the customer’s needs over decades: that’s the perfect combination. This is embodied by LivingBoard, a ‘classic’ in the field of sustainable construction.
When gluing boards, Pfleiderer relies on formaldehyde-reduced and formaldehyde-free solutions. We have adapted our entire wood-based materials production to meet the stringent equirements of the extremely low German emission class ‘E0.5’, and have the Blue Angel certification for much of the product range and Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Program for LivingBoard, ecoBoard and PrimeBoard.
Read more about sustainability at Pfleiderer
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