Engineers have developed a replacement for MDF and chipboard that is made from potato peels and is biodegradable.
At Springwise, we have seen a number of innovations aimed at recycling food. These have ranged from turning used gum into shoes and turning food waste into textiles. Now, London-based designers Rowan Minkley and Robert Nicoll have found a way to turn waste potato peelings into a replacement for MDF and chipboard. Their product, called Chip[s] Board is biodegradable and does not contain any formaldehyde or other toxic resins and chemicals.
To create the material, raw peelings are first collected from manufacturers of processed potato products, then put through a refinement process to create a binding agent. This is then used to bind other organic fibres, such as potato skins, bamboo, recycled wood or spent hops. The resulting composite then undergoes heat pressing to form a robust sheet of board that can be turned into a wide variety of products, including furniture and building materials. Once they have reached the end of their life span, products made from Chip[s] Board can be sent to an industrial composter and turned into fertiliser for growing more potatoes (or anything else).
Minkley and Nicoll were inspired to find an environmentally-friendly alternative to MDF after realising that around 140,000 tonnes of MDF is incinerated each year because it cannot be recycled. After finding out that a number of Italian companies make a recyclable paper out of potato peels, the pair decided to create a similar building material. The forming and pressing processes used to create Chip[s] Board are similar to those used in MDF manufacturing, except toxic formaldehyde-based resins are replaced with the waste-derived biodegradable binders.