SUSBIND publishes key market insights to EU Ecolabel Criteria for Wooden Furniture Revision

Sustainability in the furniture trade

The word sustainability is something that everyone uses, but does everybody know what it really means? Achieving sustainability requires the understanding of a cradle-to-cradle circular economy concept that only functions if multiple-actors along the entire value chain embrace it. Achieving sustainability means satisfying our current needs only on the condition that future generations are guaranteed of their livelihood. This may sound easy, but the complexity of addressing all parts of the value chain to achieve a truly sustainable economy is where many challenges still lie.

A question of choice and action

It is a question of choice and even action that is required from many actors like government, industry and consumers to achieve true sustainability.  Society needs to consider the total environmental and economical savings of promoting, investing and behaving in a way that promotes sustainability. To not do so will result in climate, human and existential threats that will be even more expensive to address.

Industry leaders have a major role to play in providing sustainable furniture alternatives, and consumers have an important role to ease the market-entry of such goods through their purchasing power. Everyone is called on to contribute to achieving the many large and small climate goals. This has ramifications for a multitude of sectors, including that of the furniture industry and furniture trade business.

(c)FgH the final furniture porotype of the SUSBIND project as an example of a sustainable bio-based product.


A matter of cost?

But how can behaviour be changed to influence sustainable the availability of consumer products and choices? Is it knowledge that shapes consumer’s decisions, or is it a matter of cost, or even a question of the options that are available? What blocks adherence to the adoption of the label and what could sustain it? Is it that leading corporate furniture manufacturers are quicker to make change ahead of government, or must they be coerced, like the smaller SMEs that find the implementation of such certification too expensive and overly complex? And essentially, what are the benefits and the return on investment for companies?

The BBI-JU and Horizon 2020 SUSBIND project has published a White Paper based around a survey of furniture industry participants and consumers that addressed multiple aspects of advancing on the framework proposal of the revision of the EU Ecolabel which has been described as a “patchwork of regulatory instruments”.

Many of the questions mentioned above are addressed in the SUSBIND survey responses that provide an insight into the thinking behind the possible behaviour of industry and consumer participants. The survey’s questionnaire considered the many European Union Parliamentary initiatives and research papers already in existence to further understand where the barriers, benefits and opportunities lie for certified sustainable products within the EU.

There are many progressive global furniture and industry manufacturers that are advanced in their sustainability goals. Responsible corporate sustainability governance is essential to influence multiple stakeholders, especially the smaller companies they source from. Increasingly, consumers and industry gatekeepers are demanding sustainable product options. It is here that entrepreneurs are challenged to derive the “right” action from this. The good news that came out of the SUSBIND White Paper survey is that two thirds of European consumers are prepared to pay more for sustainable furniture.

(C) IKEA furniture production process

In this regard, there are many opportunities to support sustainability — in the respective companies, in products and production, and along the entire value chain. The furniture trade and retail in general have important key functions here. It is here that decisions are made as to what is offered to the end customer — what, when, where and how. It is here that prices and conditions are set, and decisions are made as to what happens to unusable and expired goods. This is where joint government and industry initiatives can make a difference to support a circular economy and the standards set out in eco-labels.

An essential element for the furniture industry is to support sustainable decisions that can make a climate positive difference by deciding:  what materials to use and source; how the product can be designed and conceived to assist up-cycling at the end-of-use date; extend the lifespan of the product; demand the repairability of products; and increase the recyclable potential.

On this subject, EU specifications and targets — such as an eco-label — certainly can be useful aids, or act as a guideline. However, the innovative power and freedom of companies and industries, as well as competitiveness should not be prevented or restricted. An eco-label used throughout Europe would have to appeal to the customer and the advantages would have to be communicated accordingly in public campaigns. It would also need to be supported by all European countries.

Of course, every company within the furniture sector has many other possibilities to act sustainably, for example: emission-free buildings and vehicle fleets; sourcing from regional supply chains, if possible; further training of employees on these topics; the use of recycled and natural materials, and much more. Thinking and working in cycles — cradle to cradle — should be defined as a goal to take and reach.

SUSBIND is a good example of an EU project that helps seed and implement sustainable concepts for formaldehyde-free bio-based binders for building products and furniture. The SUSBIND White Paper survey shows that industry, trade and end customers increasingly are thinking and acting more sustainably which is completely in line with the objectives of the EU Green Deal. It also shows that many people are not even aware of the health risks that some furniture and building products contain.

Europe and products of the future

Therefore, it is also an imperative for us as representatives of the furniture trade and EU projects to deal with sustainability in all its possibilities and opportunities, but also to address the challenges. Achieving this is not about one big step, but about many small steps that can and must be taken by all parties. A good way to promote the Ecolabel would be to provide more educational campaigns across Europe to make the symbol and what it stands for recognizable. An overwhelming 78% of respondents said this. Additionally, support should be given to smaller companies – suppliers, producers and even waste companies – across the entire value chain to enable the Ecolabel criteria to be adopted and valued. Consumers also need to demand more Ecolabel products.

We are still at the beginning of a long journey. Achieving this is a massive, complex endeavour that will require less talk, more action, and even flexibility, to ensure that the road becomes a wheel of cradle-to-cradle circular sustainability. We at SUSBIND, FENA and RTDS will make our contribution. Together we can do it!

Mikael Muegge, Senior Manager RTDS Association

Roman Eberharter, President of FENA – European Federation for Furniture Retailers










The final version of the SUSBIND Industry-led White-Paper for EU Ecolabel Criteria for Wooden Furniture Revision is now available here.

Briefing: Initial Appraisal of a European Commission Impact Assessment

SUSBIND Pilot production of Medium Density Fibre Boards (MDF) at Valbopan

SMEs praise cooperation with large industry

Valbopan is a small-sized company (SME), located in the west coast of Portugal that produces MDF and develops different and innovative products out of standard commodities. Nowadays the most important challenge to the R&D area is finding good alternative raw materials and natural binders to give sustainability to products and make it more environmentally friendly. To achieve this goal Valbopan needs cooperation with big industry partners working in the same field. Within the SUSBIND project Valbopan was entrusted with pilot production of MDF boards with natural binders.

Thanks to the the expertise and experience, Valbopan team managed to deliver 18mm MDF and 3mm HDF laboratory boards with mechanical  properties suitable for  evaluation at IKEA and further use in the production of prototypes. A comparison with the properties for 3mm HDF was conducted in reference to the commercial LSO and soy and with standard MDF with synthetic resin. Mechanical properties of the boards were achieved with same temperature of the press, they had less moisture of fibres, with similar addition of the binder they needed 10% more pressing time.

MDF boards at (c)Valbopan

Promising results from lab scale testing of the binder on MDF

The mechanical results were quite good when compared with the standard product, except for the swelling in thickness after immersion in water for 24h, although the result was better than comparing it only with soy flour. For future work it is recommended to enhance the behaviour in water, by increasing the wax emulsion on the fibres.

Main R&D engineer on the project Alexandra Gouveia shares some insights from her work on the project:

The SUSBIND binder developed by Wood K plus and Egger gave us the opportunity to optimize the tax of addition on fibres and the results were very good, when compared with a traditional UF resin. During the last trials at laboratory scale with the same amount of binder that we normally use with synthetic resin we had the same mechanical properties on the boards obtained of 18mm MDF. This is very promising and keep us interested in continuing to work with this kind of binder!

To consider using  the SUSBIND binder on a small industrial scale in the future it would be necessary to improve the stability in time of it by having at least two weeks of life-time after receiving it at the plant. After all the results on MDF laboratory boards the SUSBIND binder exceed the expectations in its performance with the wood fibres here at Valbopan”.

Validation of SUSBIND PB, MDF and HDF boards at IKEA

The main objective of the SUSBIND project was to produce and test bio-based adhesives in an industrially relevant environment (TRL 5) as an alternative to formaldehyde-based adhesives currently used in the manufacture of wood-based panels. Within the SUSBIND project, work package 2 applies new and greener conversion technologies for the production of adhesives and intermediates and as well technologies using non-added formaldehyde ingredients, which might be a future long-term requirement from legislation point of view.

The production and validation of the most promising adhesives at pilot scale were then done with leading wood board manufactures;

  • Egger (Austria) producing P2 particle board (PB) and;
  • Valbopan (Portugal) producing medium density fibre board (MDF) and as well thin high density fibre board (HDF).

As a final step, the boards with the most promising SUSBIND adhesive formulation* was evaluated by IKEA with respect to technical and emissions requirements when used in a typical example of IKEA furniture.

The final, visual result of the SUSBIND project (c)IKEA

An important final, overall result of the project is that a SUSKET box has been produced. This small furniture has been shown at different conferences (International Conference on Wood Adhesives in Portland, USA in May 2022, and the SUSBIND Final Conference, others to come) and seminars and is testimony of that boards made of quite a high content of biomaterials in the adhesive (up to 80% by mass and 60% by carbon) can be used for producing a flat package furniture with characteristic post treatments.

It is advised to look for alternative crosslinker that has a lower carbon footprint, greater availability, and cheaper prices as the SUSBIND adhesive idea (fructose+ HMF/BHT) has a less desirable carbon footprint and poor availability of the BHT crosslinker. Moreover, it would also be of priority to, in a potential next step of the project, look deeper into a crosslinker from renewable resources (“biobased crosslinker”).

The technical properties of the SUSBIND adhesive are however promising, although we do not yet know the feasibility in industrial environment (press factor). The lab scale testing indicates however good properties at 10 sec/mm press factor and OK also for 8 sec/mm, which at least give some hope to manage up to half of that pressing time in industrial scale, which is needed.

Further investigation is also required to determine how the SUSBIND adhesive manages to attain such significant (relatively observed) acetic acid emissions. Could these emissions be reduced by changing to another crosslinker or are they (also) related to the wood source and/or press schedule used etc.?

Overall, the SUSKET box has reached a number of important technical board requirements for industry and IKEA. Additional research and developments are needed to ensure a full compliance and fulfilment of all the requirements. The boards manufactured on a small scale and in a prototype final product, the SUSBIND adhesive has displayed promising technical performance (at Technology Readiness Level, TRL 5). The technological development of the SUSBIND adhesive shows promising perspectives for the future.


New SUSBIND binder proves environmentally-friendly with improved human health impacts

The SUSBIND consortium has developed a bio-based adhesive system for P2 particleboard (PB) and medium-density fibreboard (MDF) targeting two main environmental goals: a 5% lower carbon footprint (TRL 5 for bio-based compared to TRL 9 for the fossil benchmark) and lower human health impacts compared to the benchmark.

The consortium partners have developed a novel formaldehyde-free binder that is up to 80% bio-based. The new binder has shown promising technical performance in lab-scale testing and in a prototype IKEA product. The SUSBIND binder is based on fructose derived from wheat/maize, hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) made from fructose and fossil bis(hexamethylene)triamine (BHT).

Environmental and human health potential of the SUSBIND binder

The SUSBIND partner CE Delft conducted a sustainability research in which the environmental performance of the SUSBIND adhesive system was compared to a state-of-the-art Urea-formaldehyde (UF) adhesive system in wood-based boards. In addition, the first board emission test (emissions during use of the product) results were analysed to give a first indication of the human health performance during the use phase of wood-based boards.

The analysis of potential human health impacts shows that SUSBIND boards can emit different substances during their use phase compared to MUF/UF reference boards, such as higher acetic acid emissions. While the emissions are different and in some cases higher, the overall human health impact of SUSBIND boards is projected to be lower based on the ReCiPe 2016 human health indicator.

This analysis confirms it is considered unlikely that the wood-based boards using SUSBIND binder lead to increases in emissions that are harmful to human health, specifically due to the avoidance of UF and the resulting lower formaldehyde emissions.

Guidelines for carbon footprint reduction

Further research results of CE Delft life-cycle analysis show that adhesive systems based on the SUSBIND binder while not yet meeting the 5% carbon footprint reduction target compared to UF show a great potential in reaching it. This is primarily due to the use of the fossil crosslinker BHT, that contributes between 43% and 65% of the total carbon footprint of SUSBIND adhesive systems.

Based on the conclusions from the contribution analysis, six key carbon footprint improvement possibilities are identified:

1) Reduction of the amount of BHT in the binder formulation

2) Switching to alternative crosslinkers in the binder formulation

3) Changing BHT production by bio-based in ingredient sourcing

4) Reducing the energy consumption/energy mix of binder production in upscaling

5) Adjusting the additives in bio-based hydrophobic wax in board formulation

6) Reducing the overall amount of resin used in board formulation.

Therefore, it may be concluded that further reduction of 5% in carbon footprint is envisaged and it is very likely that further research could achieve further carbon footprint reduction by following the above listed six key options. Additionally, larger carbon footprint reductions are needed to achieve the European and global climate change goals.

The SUSBIND project concludes by demonstrating the technological viability and great potential of a carbohydrate-based glue for wood-based boards. Consideration of whether substitutes for the fossil crosslinker BHT, such as those based on bio-based or recycled feedstocks, could provide a lower carbon footprint is thus a promising direction.

(C) Wood K plus – SUSBIND binder ingredients

Commercial aspects of the SUSBIND binder

Last but not least, CE Delft also carried out a market uptake analysis to see whether the SUSBIND binder could compete with the most cutting-edge binder currently on the market and whether post-project production upscaling was technically, economically, and legally possible.

The extent to which the SUSBIND binder satisfies the necessary requirements for a successful market uptake was examined in this analysis. This should demonstrate that the resin can be manufactured on a large scale and is technically possible. In addition, the cost parameters need to be seen as competitive with that of conventional UF and other bio-based or formaldehyde-free binders.

Future regulation should work in the SUSBIND binder’s favor. If the product is commercially attractive to make will depend on the preferences of the final consumer and downstream producers.

©IKEA Board making

© IKEA Board lackering

The SUSBIND project has resulted in the development of a binder that meets industry and technical requirements. The key uncertainty factors that could prevent a successful market acceptance of BHT include price, availability, and carbon footprint. These issues can potentially be overcome, principally in the longer term. The business case for SUSBIND binder can change over time, partly depending on government policies, and it may be possible to develop and install new production capacity for BHT with a lower carbon footprint. It is therefore recommended to further investigate the options for upscaling in relation to more favourable prices.

Since BHT is the principal impediment to market adoption, it is advised to concurrently pursue the development of BHT replacement crosslinkers or alternate production methods that can address production capacity, environmental footprint, and cost issues.


This article is based on the three official project reports, produced by CE Delft within the SUSBIND project. For further details read summary versions here shortly.


SUSBIND discovers consumers willing to pay more for bio-based furniture products

SUSBIND Industry-led White Paper on EU Furniture Ecolabel revision

Within the framework of the project, SUSBIND partners have developed an industry-led white paper on the EU’s Furniture Ecolabel revision. Criteria 049 of the EU Ecolabel addresses multiple aspects of furniture products beyond the scope of the SUSBIND project. Accordingly, the recommendations and statements in this white paper focus solely on the European market for wood-based panels and adhesive used in furniture production.

The research paper includes an extensive survey on the above-mentioned subject and addresses multiple stakeholders, from producers of wood, adhesives, and other materials, to producers of wood-based panels, furniture retailers and manufacturers. and last but not least, it provides valuable data to consumers. The survey was conducted by RTDS in close co-operation with the European Furniture Industries Confederation (EFIC), the European Federation for Furniture (FENA), the European Office Furniture Federation (FEMB) as well as with national organisations. It included 2,000 interviewees from the general public within four countries: Sweden, Spain, Poland and Germany, representing the geographical North, South, East and West respectively.

The white paper focuses on the following topics:

  • The relevance of the EU Ecolabel from both industry and consumer’s perspectives
  • The expectations from industry and consumers towards EU Ecolabel
  • The limitations or barriers to uptake of the EU Ecolabel in the furniture industry
  • The specific recommendations to contribute to a new EU ecolabelling strategy for the furniture industry, with emphasis on the following themes:
  • Hazardous substances and indoor air quality
  • Wood sourcing
  • Carbon footprint recyclability and waste management

SUSBIND survey results

One of the most interesting survey results is the fact that the consumers are willing to pay more for certified sustainable and healthy furniture products once they were made aware of their health and environmental benefits. Moreover, it is highly interesting that the responses before and after the survey differed in favour of “willing to pay even more” once they received more information on sustainable healthy products and after increasing their awareness of the benefits certified products offer.

Also, interestingly enough the interviewees had a relatively little knowledge of formaldehyde emissions related to furniture, and the majority showed great interest in EU Ecolabel providing more information about the certified products.

For more detailed survey results download the full presentation here: SUSBIND_Summary of B2C survey

The final version of the SUSBIND industry-led White Paper for the EU Ecolabel revision is now available here.


EU Ecolabel Criteria for furniture and the SUSBIND survey

For the occasion of the Final Online Conference on June 1, 2022, SUSBIND was honoured to host Antonio Delre – Project Officer at Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, who presented the latest developments on the EU Ecolabel criteria for furniture. Here are some highlights of his presentation.

The EU Ecolabel is an EU voluntary label for eco excellence set in Regulation 66/2010 released in 2010 and established thirty years ago. It certifies products with a guaranteed, independently-verified low environmental impact. To be awarded the EU Ecolabel goods and services should meet high environmental standard throughout their entire life-cycle, from an analysis of the raw material extraction through production and distribution to disposal. Products are classified into mini-product groups and there almost 90 000 products awarded so far with more than 2000 licences. A company can get a licence within mini-products, so mini products can be part of more than one licence.

When observing the number of products and licences for furniture awarded in the last eight years, one can notice an increase in number for both categories from 2019 until today. This trend was triggered by the regulation of the Danish authorities to allow only EU Ecolabel furniture in public procurement. Public authorities within the EU are major consumers of EU Ecolabel furniture and they represent 40% of the EU growth domestic product.

EU Ecolabel criteria

EU Ecolabel criteria are set in the European Commission Decision (EU) 2016/1332 and are valid until July 2022 and the current validity will be extended according to Antonio Delre – Project Officer at JRC.

The product group ‘furniture’ includes free-standing or built-in units whose primary function is to be used for the storage, placement or hanging of items and/or to provide surfaces where users can rest, sit, eat, study or work, whether for indoor or outdoor use. The scope extends to domestic furniture and contract furniture items for use in domestic or non-domestic environments. Bed frames, legs, bases and headboards are included in the scope.

The following products are excluded from the EU Ecolabel scope:

(a) Bed mattresses, which are covered by the criteria set out in Commission Decision 2014/391/EU (3), (b) Products whose primary function is not to be used as per paragraph 1, including streetlights, railings and fences, ladders, clocks, playground equipment, stand-alone or wall-hung mirrors, electrical conduits, road bollards and building products such as steps, doors, windows, floor coverings and cladding.

(c) Second-hand, refinished, refurbished or remanufactured furniture products.

(d) Furniture fitted in vehicles used for public or private transit.

(e) Furniture products which consist of more than 5 % (weight by weight) of materials not included in the following list: solid wood, wood-based panels, cork, bamboo, rattan, plastics, metals, leather, coated fabrics, textiles, glass and padding/filling materials.

The EU Ecolabel criteria are classified in the following eleven categories:

  1. Product description
  2. General requirements for hazardous substances and mixtures (Substances of Very High Concern)
  3. Wood, cork, bamboo and rattan
  4. Plastics
  5. Metals
  6. Upholstery covering materials
  7. Upholstery padding materials
  8. Glass: use of heavy metals
  9. Final product requirements
  10. Consumer information
  11. Information appearing on the EU Ecolabel

Final product requirements are quite important as they include: easy disassembly for repair, reuse and recycling, extended product guarantee and provision of spare parts.

The criteria number 3 is relevant for furniture as it sets the requirements for:

  • Sustainable wood
  • Contaminants in recycled wood used in wood-based panels
  • Heavy metals and VOC in paints, primers and varnishes
  • Formaldehyde emissions from wood-based panels

Formaldehyde emissions from wood-based panels

Formaldehyde emissions from wood-based panels within the EU Ecolabel must be below one of these three requirements: 50% of the threshold value classified in E1 (EN 13986)- European standard, or below 65% of the threshold value of E1 (EN 13986) for MDF or alternatively be lower that the limits set in CARB Phase IIm JIS F-3 star and JIS F-4 star.

All these requirements apply only if the content in the wood-based panel exceeds 5% of the whole weight of the product. Additionally, it applies in the boards that are used in the furniture products manufactured by using the formaldehyde-based resins.

Figure 1: Proposed ecodesign reqirements

Future developments

This year there was a Proposal COM (2022) 142 for Eco-design for Sustainable Product Regulation by the European Commission, which is a framework legislation. Within this package furniture was spot to be a suitable candidate to be included in the first working plan. This means as soon as this regulation goes through scrutiny of the EU Parliament and the Council, it is likely that there will be A specific Delegated Act addressing the eco-design of furniture. The next revision of the EU Ecolabel criteria will consider the requirements reported in the delegated Act for furniture.

Proposed eco-design requirements include general qualities such as durability, reparability and reusability to name only a few important ones.  The SUSBIND project is currently finalising the results of an EU Ecolabel survey that is part of an industry-led White Paper for the EU Ecolabel revision. SUSBIND can therefore provide an important support in withholding these requirements according to Delre.

You can read the recent preliminary results of the SUSBIND survey here.

Download the full presentation on the EU Ecolabel here: Antonio Delre EC EU_Ecolabel_for_furniture.

The complete version of the SUSBIND industry-led White Paper for the EU Ecolabel revision is now available here.




SUSBIND consortium capitalises on excellent results for biobased binders for furniture at the project end

As the climate changes, the furniture of the future will have to be sustainable, multi-functional and efficient. Nowadays, the wood board industry relies heavily on fossil-based binders that contain formaldehyde. Having the circular economy in mind, there have been many initiatives to produce alternative binders from renewable resources, but a bio-based binder at industrial scale does not yet exist.

SUSBIND’s collaborative partnership consisting of six research and five industry partners was able to develop a bio-based binder for the manufacture of interior particleboards and medium density fibreboard (MDF).

SUSBIND Consortium members at Valbopan factory, in Nazaré, Portugal

Major scientific results

SUSBIND partners experimented with crops such as natural side streams, surplus carbohydrates, plant oils and fats to convert them into a bio-based chemical composition binder.

SUSBIND researchers developed a binder that is 80% renewable and based on sugar, and 20% based on a crosslinker that is synthetic.

Wood K plus scientists meet industrial partners of Cargill

The scientific work focused on two main topics: First, on developing enzymatic technology for epoxidising complex mixtures of fatty acids obtained from vegetable oils and second, on developing a carbohydrate-based pathway for binder production. The most effective green raw material for reactive intermediates has proven to be carbohydrates. Different binder compositions were tested in laboratory experiments.  The most promising binders comprised fructose, HMF and hexamethylenediamine (HMDA) and bishexamethylenetriamine (BHT) as amine crosslinkers.

In simple terms, the outcome is a sugar-based binder that we obtain from surplus and sustainable feedstock from European bio-refineries. Because 80% of the sugar-based binder is derived from biomass, wood-based boards can be almost entirely made from renewable resources.

Industrial contribution: PB and MDF testing and production

The binder was also tested at a lab-scale for binder characteristics such as viscosity, solid content and pH, bonding strength development, pressing times and temperatures, strength and curing speed being the most important qualities. SUSBIND industry partners produced the particleboards and MDF boards. Further validation of the produced SUSBIND-bonded boards was undertaken by producing a prototype furniture (TRL5) by IKEA of Sweden. The sustainable prototype box “SUSKET” was inspired by the IKEA’s famous EKET.

Most important technical results suggest the following:

  • PB boards are comparable to UF-bonded ones in terms of internal bond strength and press time.
  • The SUSBIND particleboards surpassed the requirements of the European standard EN312, class P2
  • MDF optimisation was possible even with 8% binder and was in line with European regulations in terms of density, flexion, elasticity, internal bond, humidity resistance and deflection resistance need further optimisation in the formulation.

The SUSBIND project sets the collaboration framework as well as the technical solution for the future of bio-based binders for furniture. Up to 80% of the bulk of the SUSBIND binder is made up of renewable materials. It has a lower impact on human health and it is formaldehyde-free.

The SUSBIND renewable binder is expected to lead to lower emissions and improve the air we breathe in our houses and offices. Health impact is expected to be about 40 to 55% lower than that of Ureafolrmaldehyde boards.

Further reduction of 5% in carbon footprint is envisaged, which should improve the quality of our environment and life on the planet.

It is also very likely that further research could achieve even more carbon footprint reduction.

On the left a SUSBIND MDF board produced by Valbopan and on the right a SUSKET box produced by IKEA

A Way into the future

After four years of research and cooperation between industry and science the SUSBIND partners were able to develop a binder that is made of 80% renewable materials. It is formaldehyde-free and has a lower impact on human health. The SUSBIND project sets the collaboration framework and the technical solution for the future of bio-based binders for furniture. Now is Europe’s chance to capitalize on the exciting untapped potential shown by the SUSBIND results.

SUSBIND was set out to have a dream to deliver something sustainable for future generations. With the cooperation of the partners, and many stakeholders along the value chain, we have come a long way to make that dream a game changing reality in the future.

Hydroxymethylfurfural in wood adhesives: Using the strength of a giant in interior particleboards

Wood adhesives must meet various criteria in terms of technical suitability and economic feasibility [1]. Important requirements in this regard are a rapid cure speed and high reactivity. Previously, these properties were identified as remaining challenges in the manufacture of bio-based adhesive and still prevent a cleaner production of wood particleboards [2].

SUSBIND approach

Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is a promising, bio-based chemical acting as a highly reactive compound in adhesives. HMF has earned the epithet of a (sleeping) giant of sustainable chemistry, a term playing on its anticipated high market potential as well as on challenges occurring in large-scale production. Previously, it was found that HMF acts as a key reactant in fructose-amine adhesives, leading to an increased reactivity [3]. As visualized in Figure 1, this increased reactivity is a result of the lower activation energy needed for the curing reaction of the SUSBIND adhesive (a fructose-HMF-bishexamethylenetriamine (BHT) system). The activation energy is defined as the minimum energy that is required for a reactive species (e.g. an uncured adhesive) to undergo a reaction (e.g. curing reaction).

Figure 1: Illustration of the activation energy (left) and activation energy of SUSBIND adhesive (Fructose-HMF(5%)-BHT) during curing reaction (right) [3]

Laboratory-scale particleboard production

Within the SUSBIND project, lab-scale particleboards were produced together with the industry partner Fritz EGGER GmbH & Co. OG to evaluate the potential of HMF as reactive compound in the SUSBIND adhesive. Figure 2 depicts a typical particleboard production process in lab-scale.

Figure 2: Workflow of the production of laboratory-scale particleboards

If you are would like to know more about lab-scale particleboard production, check out the video on SUSBIND board pressing at EGGER:

Technical assessment of SUSBIND particleboards

An important process-related parameter in the production of particleboards is the so-called press factor. It is the time needed to cure 1mm of the panel cross section. As can be seen in Figure 3, typical laboratory-scale press factors lie in the range of 5-12 s/mm using hot press-temperatures of 180-240 °C.  Many carbohydrate-based adhesives need longer press factors to reach the minimum requirements of the European standard EN312 (e.g. internal bond strength). This is a result of their reduced reactivity and cure speed. The internal bond strength is a quality parameter in the aforementioned European standard, which specifies the classification requirements of particleboards. It is indicated as a line at 0.35 N/mm2 in Figure 3. Particleboards bonded with the SUSBIND adhesive surpass P2 requirements of the European standard EN312. The detailed discussion of the particleboard testing will be published in an upcoming scientific article [5].

Figure 3: Internal bond strength of particleboards bonded with SUSBIND adhesive, compared to reported literature on carbohydrate- and/or HMF-containing adhesives [2], [4-5]

Further validation of the produced particleboards will be done by our project-partner IKEA, who will use the produced boards to produce small prototype furniture pieces.


DI Catherine Rosenfeld, BSc.

Junior Researcher, Area Wood Materials Technologies

Kompetenzzentrum Holz GmbH, WoodK+

E-Mail: / Homepage:



[1] Arias, A., González-Rodríguez, S., Vetroni Barros, M., Salvador, R., de Francisco, A. C., Moro Piekarski, C., & Moreira, M. T. (2021). Recent developments in bio-based adhesives from renewable natural resources. Journal of Cleaner Production, 314, 127892. doi:

[2] Solt;, P., Konnerth, J., Gindl-Altmutter, W., Kantner, W., Moser, J., Mitter, R., & van Herwijnen, H., W. G. ;. (2019). Technological performance of formaldehyde-free adhesive alternatives for particleboard industry. International Journal of Adhesion and Adhesives, 94, 99-131.

[3] Thoma;, C., Solt, P., Sailer-Kronlachner, W., Rosenau, T., Potthast, A., Konnerth, J., . . . van Herwijnen, H. W. G. (2021). Carbohydrate-hydroxymethylfurfural-amine adhesives: Chemorheological analysis and rheokinetic study. polymer, 231(124128).

[4] Rosenfeld;, C., Konnerth, J., Sailer-Kronlachner, W., Rosenau, T., Potthast, A., Solt, P., & van Herwijnen, H. W. G. (2020). Hydroxymethylfurfural and its Derivatives: Potential Key Reactants in Adhesives. ChemSusChem, 13(20), 5408-5422. doi:

[5] Rosenfeld, C., Solt-Rindler, P., Sailer-Kronlachner, W., Kuncinger, T., Konnerth, J., Geyer, A., van Herwijnen, H.W.G. (2022). Effect of mat moisture content, adhesive amount and press time on the performance of particleboards bonded with fructose-based adhesive. submitted

SUSBIND sparks discussion of the future for Net Zero furniture

The 12th International Conference on Wood Adhesives  (ICWA) was successfully held May 11-13, 2022 in Portland, Oregon, USA with the active contribution of the SUSBIND Team, represented by Wood K Plus, Cargill, IKEA and the Project Coordinator RTDS.

@IKEA produced the SUSKET box

This premier technical conference on advances in the adhesion of wood and biomass is held ever 3-4 years, and due to the pandemic, it was the first conference since 2017.Delegates from around the world gathered and attended this 3-day event investigating and discussing the latest developments from the world of adhesives.

SUSBIND, an EU funded Horizon/Biobased Industries Joint Undertaking funded research and innovation project in collaboration of six research and five industrial partners has made substantial progress in developing highly sustainable bio-based binders. It is envisaged that these binders will in future replace the conventional fossil-based ones currently used for wood-based panel boards in furniture mass products.

In the framework of the project, SUSBIND showcased the innovative solutions in terms of novel technologies, both for the enzymatic conversion of lipids and thermo/chemical conversion of carbohydrates which are scalable and applicable in numerous industrial relevant environments.

The results were impressively demonstrated in the first prototype product based on the successful EKET range of IKEA.  This “SUS-EKET” has zero formaldehyde and uses bio-based binders from carbohydrates and vegetable oils.  Both integrated particle boards from Egger and MDF units from Valbopan were utilised.

Due to the key ingredients and due to the pressing the boards show a slightly darker colour compared to commercial boards. “This “Feature” – is a sign of proof of the bio based nature of the boards” says Mikael Muegge Senior Manager at RTDS.

@IKEA darker board with the SUSBIND biobased adhesive

While there is still room for optimisation on formulation and facilitation of pressing time, the boards pass all the set requirements.

The SUSBIND binder aims at containing a significantly lower carbon footprint, and reducing formaldehyde emissions, and thus making a meaningful contribution in improving the public health and helping mitigate climate change. Hand in hand with the EU’ Green Deal targets, SUSBIND also provides cutting-edge clean technological innovation by converting carbohydrates and vegetable oils to binder precursors by “mild” technologies.

Accordingly, SUSBIND under the management of Stephen Webb and Mikael Muegge (RTDS) held a 30-minute podium discussion with leading industry and scientific experts  Manfred Dunky, Massimo Bregola from Cargill, Erik van Herwijnen from Wood K plus and Venla Hemmilä from Inter IKEA Group fostering international dialogue between stakeholders identifying the criteria, opportunities and constraints to successfully produce and market net zero emission furniture. In this framework, SUSBIND showcased its key findings and results and the relevance these innovations (e.g. formaldehyde free products) have in the EU and USA.

@RTDS: Venla Hemmilä of IKEA and Massimo Bregola of Cargill at the Conference.

Looking at the critical point in the movement towards Net Zero Furniture the group looked at three key aspects, namely sourcing, production and marketability of such novel solutions.
In terms of sourcing Massimo Bregola from Cargill, made it clear that key aspects such as availability of raw materials and their limitations, food vs non-food sources and their relationship going forward are key priorities.

Manfred Dunky, leading industry expert added that the question of availability has two levels: for niche products for the start to implement this technology, and at an all industrial scale which requires very different parameters, some of which may not even exist in Europe.

For Venla Hemmilä from Inter IKEA Group these initiatives are clear game changers

For IKEA “sustainable furniture” have the potential to be a “game changer”. It is clear that a number of steps needs to be done by the various stakeholder groups to enable these advancements to be part of a pivotal moment.

From sustainable raw materials to sustainable recycling in furniture: SUSBIND Final Online Conference

“From Sustainable Raw Materials to Sustainable Recycling (R2R) in Furniture”

SUSBIND Final Online Conference, 1st June 2022, 10:00 am -14:00 CEST

Join our renowned experts on novel biotechnologies and bioeconomy, as well as our scientists and industry representatives! Be the first to know the new trends and discoveries from the SUSBIND project and beyond. You can download the presentations of the SUSBIND Final Online Conference June 1, 2022 here.

As the climate changes, the furniture of the future will have to be sustainable, multi-functional and efficient and today’s designers and manufacturers are already starting to explore these areas, paving the way for future developments. The wood board industry already having the circular economy in mind currently relies on the use of mainly fossil-based binders, largely formaldehyde-based binders. A number of initiatives are underway to produce alternative binders from renewable resources, but a bio-based binder at industrial scale does not yet exist.

SUSBIND’s collaborative partnership of six research and five industry partners has made substantial progress in developing highly sustainable bio-based binders that will in future replace conventional fossil-based ones currently used for wood-based panel boards in furniture mass products.

The SUSBIND binder aims at containing a significantly lower carbon footprint, while also reducing formaldehyde emissions and thus making a meaningful contribution in improving the public health and helping mitigate climate change. Hand in hand with the EU’ Green Deal targets, SUSBIND also provides cutting-edge clean technological innovation by converting carbohydrates and vegetable oils to binder precursors by “mild” technologies.

This conference will showcase the innovative solutions the project delivers in terms of novel technologies, both for enzymatic conversion of lipids and thermo/chemical conversion of carbohydrates which are scalable and applicable in numerous industrial relevant environments.
Moreover, the SUSBIND final online conference will examine current and future trends in and beyond the binder market for furniture and check applicability of similar solutions in research and other industry fields. The aim of this global online conference is to share experience, open debates for future trends and comparable projects as well as to attract attention of relevant stakeholder and reach out to a broad audience.



Welcome and Introduction to the Conference: Stephen WebbCEO RTDS Group

10:00-10:10 Key note: SUSBIND as European Bioeconomy in the making

Philippe Mengal- Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking (CBE JU), Executive Director

10:10-10:20 Key note: Rolle of industry in European circular economy initiatives and European projects

Dirk Carrez – Bio-based Industry Consortium – (BIC), Executive Director

10:20-10:35 Challenges of Bio-based Materials from an Industrial Perspective

Manfred Dunky –Industry Expert-bio-based Materials


10:30 Block 1: New technologies

10:35-10:45 Introduction to the SUSBIND project: Ambition and results

Massimo Bregola, Global Application Lead Binders & Adhesives at Cargill and

SUSBIND Scientific Coordinator

10:45-11:00 SUSBIND Best practice #1:

Carbohydrates: Sugar syrup as the secret ingredient for biobased binders for furniture

Erik Van Herwijnen- Deputy Area Manager Wood K plus and Catherine Rosenfeld – Scientist Wood K plus

11:00-11:15 SUSBIND Best practice #2:

Emerged Enzymatic Technologies: From Fungus to Innovative Biocatalysts (UPOs)

Juan Carro – Scientist CIB CSIC and Jan Kiebist, Scientist at JenaBios

11:15-11:30 Q&A & panel discussion

11:30-11:45 Break


11:45 Block 2. Sustainability & Recycling

11:45-12:00 Sustainable grains for sustainable glucose

James Ede – Cargill- Global Starch & Sweeteners Sustainability Lead

12:00-12:15 Best practice example #3:

Sustainability in biomass wood-based products: Bio-catalysed polymerization of Lignosulfonates

Nikolaus Schwaiger, Chemical Engineer Biorefinery at Sappi Europe SA

12:15-12:30 Ways to recycle fiberboards for manufacturing of new particleboards and fiberboards

Jan-Olof Fechter, Category Area Wood, Material & Technology IKEA

12:30-12:45 Q&A & panel discussion


12:45 Block 3. CO2 emission reduction and beyond & final panel discussion

12:45-13:00 SUSBIND Best practice #4:

Early-stage environmental analyses to support biobased binder development

Martijn Broeren- Senior Researcher CE Delft

13:00- 13:15 EU Ecolabel criteria for furniture

Antonio Delre- Project Officer at Joint Research Centre of the European Commission



13:15-13:45 Expert Panel discussion: Way forward

Antonio Delre- European Commission, Joint Research Centre

Andreas Ahrens – Head of Climate – Inter IKEA Group

Manfred Dunky, Industry Expert-bio-based Materials

Roman Eberharter – President of FENA- European Federation for Furniture Retailers

Rob Beekers, Director New Business Development at Cargill Bio-Industrial Group


13:45-14:00 Closing session: SUSBIND Prototype product presentation (spp)-

Stephen WebbCEO RTDS Group

Final address: Oliver Zobell – Project Officer CBE JU