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How to support circularity with eco-friendly solutions

by FESPA | 30/03/2021
How to support circularity with eco-friendly solutions

Einar Ek of Re-board assesses the value of fibre paper board over synthetic materials and how to ensure durability.

Paper fibres are a truly renewable source of material, offering a high degree of recyclability, and can be a highly integral part of a circular economy

The circular economy, as defined by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, inverts the traditional industrial ‘take-make-waste’ economy. It is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems and resources. A closed-loop system uses recycling and refurbishment to minimise the input of new resources. 

Renewable source of raw materials

Paper fibre circularity is based on sustainable forest management providing fresh fibres to fuel recycling processes.

Forestry management, as we know it in the Nordic countries, is a tradition dating back to a time most of Europe was covered in forest. After almost the entire depletion of forest assets in Scandinavia, it became clear that forests needed to be secured by strict rules of conduct to protect habitats and the next generation of raw materials. Replanting two trees when one was harvested laid the foundation for what we call – after more than 100 years of gradual refinement – sustainable forestry management. 

Did you know?

A tree is not primarily harvested to make paper. The larger logs are used to produce building and construction material. The narrower part of the tree and wood from thinning is used to manufacture paperboard and paper. The remaining branches, tops, bark and sawdust, are used to produce renewable energy.

Recycling value

A virgin paper fibre can be recycled between five and seven times – the highest paper fibre ‘recycle value’. Protecting the paper fibre throughout its lifecycle will ensure a higher recycling value is maintained when collected and recycled. 

Einar Ek of Re-board

Everyone that takes part in the process of using paper fibres, such as Re-board, has an opportunity and an obligation to contribute to the recycling value by taking active steps. The question many convertors ask is how they can contribute. Below is a simplified view on how Re-board and Re-board converters can contribute to support circularity. 

Re-board, producer of creative paper core boards…

• Ensures a virgin paper fibre supply from sustainable managed forests.
• Uses FSC certification to make it easier for the customer to trace raw material sources.
• Ensures chemicals or clays used are all natural to keep recyclability. 
• Uses energy from renewable sources and optimises water consumption when producing the boards.
• Fills the trucks and optimises logistics (to reduce CO2 emissions).
• Communicates with customers and maintains transparency.


Re-board materials consist of virgin fibres from sustainably managed forests

Designer, designing Re-board products…

• Ensures that added/connected materials or accessories are easy to remove.
• Designs for reuse, and avoids glue or tape for product installation/mounting.
• Designs to optimise material usage.

Printer/converter, producing Re-board products…

• Ensures the virgin fibres supplied are from sustainably managed forests.
• Uses ink and chemicals that are easy to remove in the recycling process.
• Adjusts use of varnish to the applications lifetime and end use.
• Optimises material usage and logistics.
• Communicates the efforts made and shows the value of the product.

Creating longer-lasting applications

Designers must always consider an application or product’s end use. The designer’s role is key, providing eco-friendly solutions based on end use and material properties. In general, we believe we will see more designs made up of multiple materials such as aluminium, recyclable plastics, MDF, paper and so on to create the perfectly balanced product.

In order to increase the lifetime of pure Re-board applications, we recommend that the sealings are covered. The gradual ingress of water over time is the greatest shortener of a paper product’s natural life span. One way of achieving this is to add rubber feet, aluminium floor moulding or wheels to the product to lift the paper from the ground and protect it from water. When adding parts of a different material to enhance the end use, it’s essential to design it to easily remove before recycling.

Re-board surfaces can “take a shower” but on product surfaces that require frequent washing, we recommend lamination on certain parts of the application to support durability.

Re-board furniture

Re-board is a strong and durable material and is widely used as furniture in the B2B market; lobbies, offices, POP stores, kids’ corners/playrooms, exhibitions etc. 

Re-board foresees that tables and chairs made from its recyclable materials will one day match the durability of traditional furniture

In everyday use, in a private home, we recommend Re-board for kids’ furniture as well as for pets, home office products and shelf systems. A table foot/structure works fine, but we suggest adding another material as the table top if it will be frequently used. A Re-board chair in a private home is in the first instance a very useable sculpture. It is perfectly fine to sit on of course, but it is not yet durable enough to replace traditional furniture. However, looking at rapid technological development, that might very well change within the near future.

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