Steinert helps company turn wood scrap into MDF

Steinert helps company turn wood scrap into MDF

Installation in Italy plucks wood from mixed stream, feeds medium-density fiberboard plant.

Founded in 1882 and located outside of Venice, Italy, wood processing company Fantoni has been focusing on sustainability and recycled materials in its production for more than 20 years, according to sorting technology provider Steinert GmbH.

In 2019, Fantoni decided to source recycled materials from in-house sorting and reached out to Steinert. That inquiry has resulted in a sorting facility for recovering 250,000 tons of usable scrap wood each year recovered from a municipal solid waste (MSW) stream.

Fantoni faces what Steinert calls a “chronically poor availability of fresh wood in Italy,” and previously had been confronted by a shortage of high-quality recyclable wood. There also is growing demand on the market for sustainable products, with at least 50 percent of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) panels required to be manufactured from recycled material by 2030.

Fantoni says it has invested 150 million euros ($152.5 million) in sustainability over the last four years, including in what Steinert calls the longest continuous MDF press in Europe and a modern sorting facility for wood scrap.

The sorting plant, says Steinert, forms the basis for sustainable MDF: clean wood fibers for producing the first MDF with a higher proportion of old wood than fresh wood.

In cooperation with Steinert, Fantoni developed a sorting concept in which impurities are removed in three steps. Once the material flow has been split into two grain sizes, metals are removed using magnet and eddy current technology. Then X-ray and near-infrared (NIR) technology cleans the wood from residues such as glass, stone and plastic, in another use of Steinert separation and sorting machines.

“The carefully selected and perfectly coordinated machines ensure optimum performance and therefore optimum sorting quality of the 250 000 tons of wood waste they process per year,” states Steinert. The company says Fantoni was able to test machinery using its own material at the Steinert Test Center at the company’s headquarters in Cologne, Germany.

“The option to do this was a key factor in our decision, not only to get a guarantee of the sorting performance we targeted, but also to be able to see the machines in action and convince ourselves of their build quality,” says Umberto Meroni, technical director at Fantoni. “After all, we hope they will run for 20 to 50 years.”

Continues Meroni, “Ultimately, we were won over by the robustness of the Steinert machines and the UniSort technology for detecting black objects, which felt more sophisticated than those of the competition.”

Marco Fantoni, a member of the board at Fantoni SpA, says, “We very much appreciated the Steinert personalities. Especially during the commissioning and start-up phase, Steinert has proven to be a reliable partner.”

The family business executive says the investment represents a milestone in MDF production, delivering a much more efficient product in both monetary and environmental terms. For the first time ever, claims the company, furniture-grade wood can now be recovered from MSW.

“Being the first to develop and offer this system will give us significant competitive advantages”, says Marco Fantoni.