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High Quality Building Boards from Recycled Paper Waste

This idea is a part of The Circular Construction Challenge – Rethink Waste

Bjørn Zebitz
Bjørn Zebitz
October 2, 2018

FiberBoard is an innovative production technology offering a very competitive solution for turning paper sludge waste from recycled paper production into multi-flexible building boards for the construction industry using it for walls, partitionings, ceilings etc. A wide range of product diversifications can be developed.

FiberBoard is the current working name for these building boards.

When newspapers and glossy magazines are collected for recycling, they are transported to a paper mill with a recycling facility. Here they are taken through a cleansing process. After cleansing the paper waste is environmentally safe and is used to produce recycled paper. From this production process the paper mill ends up with a residual waste product, being paper sludge waste, which mostly resembles paper mache. This paper sludge waste is the raw material we use for producing the FiberBoards.

FiberBoard can use 100% of this paper sludge waste from the Paper Mill. In praxis the true use-rate is probably around 90%, due to losses from moving the paper sludge waste from waste site to production location and spillage from waste storage and into production.

The FiberBoards themselves can be recycled 100% to produce new FiberBoards.

The parts of the value chain involved are:

Paper Mills with Recycling -> FiberBoard Production Plant -> Distributors of Building Materials -> User of Building Materials -> “Life of Building/Property”   -> Demolition Contractors -> FiberBoard Production Plant

FiberBoard is solving a costly waste disposal problem for the paper recycling industry resulting in offering a superior building board to the construction industry.

Today, the paper mills are incurring huge disposal costs to get rid of this paper sludge waste; it’s incinerated (which is very costly due to high water content), used for landfill, and experiments seems to be ongoing to find other uses for the waste.

Our research and calculations suggest, that the cost savings a paper mill could achieve could pay for the whole investment of setting up a FiberBoard production plant within 2 years. This estimate is based on known waste disposal charges paper mills can incur.

The FiberBoards resulting from our innovative production process, offer the construction industry a high quality building board which is well positioned in the competitive landscape based on a price-quality perspective.

In this way the FiberBoard solution takes both the supply side and the demand side into consideration, benefitting both parties. The solution converts a costly waste steam into a lucrative revenue stream; eliminating a waste issue for paper mills and providing the market with an environmentally safe, 100% recyclable, building board, with high performing characteristics.

These characteristics have been tested and assessed, and the FiberBoard has earlier obtained the CE and ETA certificates needed for approved use in construction and building works (certificates are production site specific, and must be applied for, for each new production facility).

The FiberBoard is well positioned within the following characteristics:

          ● Fire resistance

          ● Strenth

          ● Density             

          ● Finishing

          ● Moisture tolerance

          ● Sound reduction / Acoustics

          ● Thermal insulation

          ● Individual finishing

          ● Easy handling


By using recycled paper as raw material there is a CO2 saving compared to the CO2 produced from a production of the same volume of new “traditional” building boards.

Paper recycling rates has gone up from around 55% to more than 70% over the last 10 years or so, both in the EU and the US, and other parts of the world. Our research suggests, that this trend will continue which obviously is in line with the general trend in society and across countries with increasing recycling rates and increasing focus on creating sustainable solutions for our waste. This indicates a potentially increasing availability of raw material (paper sludge waste).

The vision is, that all paper mills with a recycling facility, should have a FiberBoard Production Plant in close proximity to their facilities to handle their waste at source.

It is known that other major players in the paper recycling industry have tried to convert the paper sludge waste to building products, but so far none seem to have succeeded, which positions the FiberBoard production solution in a very favourable perspective.

On a global scale, there are two levels of customers for the FiberBoard Solution:

(1) Building Board Customers

Suppliers of building materials through to end customers; building contractors, house manufacturers, professionel builders, DIY.

(2) FiberBoard Production Plant Customers

Paper recycling industry, manufacturers and distributors of building materials.

Expressions of interest from distributors in Scandinavia have been received (some are customers from a previous production set-up in Denmark).

The business model is based on a conceptual approach to connecting existing paper mills with recycling facilities, to manufacturers and distributors of building products, and possibly connecting relevant project funders to these industry players.

Sale of FiberBoard production plants can be as a production plant turn-key solution or as a BOOT project. Given the large scale nature of establishing a FiberBoard production plants a flexible case-by-case approach will be taken to adapt to local market conditions and hence to optimise the sale of production plants.

The FiberBoard solution addresses these aspects of the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

(8) Decent work and economic growth

(9) Industry, innovation and infrastructure

(12) Responsible consumption and production

An average FiberBoard production plant has the capacity to produce around 3 million m2 per year, based on an investment of around DKK 70 million. This results in annual sales of more than DKK 70 million per year with EBITDA > 40%, offering a pay-back of less than 5 years (production plant investments of this scale usually have a pay-back time of 10-15 years).

The job creation for an average production plant is around 40 people.

A FiberBoard production plant is mainly made up of standard industrial production equipment, facilitating a relatively easy approach to scaling the business and selling internationally.

On a global scale, the market opportunity suggests a potential to establish production plants at more than 1000 locations, being paper mills with recycling facility.

Establishing just 30 production plants will result in recurring revenues of more than DKK 100 million per year with EBITDA > 50%.

When FiberBoard is operational, it will only take minor R&D efforts to diversify the product offering from just being building boards (which is a very competitive market) into other building products which offer a higher profitability than the basic building board market.

According to industry sources, the global market for building boards is somewhere between 3 and 6 billion m2 per year.

To exploit the global potential the FiberBoard solution offers, two important steps needs to be completed:

  1. Setting up a FiberBoard Production Plant
  2. Engaging in close dialogue with distributors and users of building boards to validate the markets attraction to buying and using the FiberBoards.

Through working with Institute for Manufacturing, Cambridge University, (  FiberBoard has obtained a Letter of Intent with Palm Paper in King’s Lynn ( for the raw material needed (the paper sludge waste).

This production plant will be a third generation plant, based on extensive development and full scale production experience in Denmark. FiberBoard secured a DKK 3 million investment from a Danish cleantech fund a few years back which was used for constructing and operating a small pilot plant validating that this improved production technology (3rd generation) would provide some specific cost advantages and ensure the high quality of the boards needed to obtain the certificates.

When the production plant in the UK is operational, which will be a profitable operation in its own right, FiberBoard will be in a position to sell turn-key production plants globally.

The key for FiberBoard to progress from the current position is to secure funding of DKK 130 million. Based on extensive interaction with possible funders and potential investors three critical components seems to be the barrier for FiberBoard to get into actual negotiations with investors:

  1. Validating the cost of production plant set-up
  2. Securing a site/location for the production plant
  3. Validating customer interest

Re (1) Validating the cost of production plant set-up

This will require extensive production plant design, work process lay-out and contact with production equipment suppliers. Estimated to be a 3-4 months process costing DKK 400-600.000.

Re (2) Securing a site/location for the production plant

This will require field research and engaging with local agents to identify either an existing feasible property or a plot of land where a production property can be built.

Estimated to be a 3-6 months process costing DKK 100-300.000

Re (3) Validating customer interest

This will require preparing a range of information materials and technical documentation to use for potential distributors, buyers and users of the FiberBoards.

Further to engage with a range of these customer to pre-sell the FiberBoards.

Estimated to be a 4-6 months process costing DKK 200-300.000

With these 3 critical components in place, FiberBoard has a significant likelihood of securing the funding required.

Getting CCC’s funding and potentially access to experts from the network, could be the tipping point on overcoming these 3 key success factors to securing the full funding. FiberBoard already has a conditioned commitment of DKK 10 million from a Danish business angel, and is in good talks with large scale funders in the UK. Concerns to move forward from investor side seem to revolve around these 3 issues.

The expertise FiberBoard would like to draw upon, if CCC could be the facilitator, is industry experience from the international building products arena, to work on getting access to international customers for the building boards. Also, expertise from the paper mill industry, to work on getting access to the paper mills with recycling facility for selling FiberBoard production plants.

The team behind FiberBoard is a very experienced and seasoned group of business and production people – Please see the Team CV uploaded separately.