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Bringing a new life to industrial waste in construction applications

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - HONEXT (Bringing a new life to industrial waste in construction applications)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2021-03-31

We have developed Honext, a high-end reclaimed material that aims at substituting some of the most widely used construction materials, such as fibreboards (especially MDF) and plasterboard, which have a huge environmental impact. Honext is a healthy material (recyclable and non toxic emissions), made from cellulosic waste generated by the paper industry that would otherwise be sent to landfill or burnt.
The following objectives of the project have been achieved:
1) Production technology at industrial scale validated and optimised, achieving a fully automated process.
2) Validation of the outstanding technical as well as environmental properties of the material by renowned 3rd parties.
3) Generation of a community of prescribers and woodworking industrials aligned with Honext’s values and trained (the seconds) to transform it with the highest quality.
4) Design of a business model to achieve a fast expansion around Europe together with a positive socioeconomic impact.
5) Raised interest from investors to support the execution of Honext business plan.
6) Developed new technologies for cellulosic waste upcycling.
Over the Honext project we have upscaled and started up satisfactorily the industrial process to manufacture Honext boards from waste. This took longer than expected due to the complexity of the equipment and the high level of automation of the demonstration site, but it has resulted in a fully automated and robust and stable process, manufacturing Honext boards meeting quality specifications on a regular basis.
In parallel to the process fine-tuning we have been working on improving the material’s mechanical properties, having developed successfully material versions with better reaction to fire, humidity as well as a mechanically transformed product with outstanding sound absorption properties.
During the project we have put a lot of effort on achieving all the required technical certifications so Honext can be applied as an internal partition in construction, such as the European Technical Assessment which defines the requirements for our novel material, as well as a certified data sheet validated by a renowned third party. We have also certified the outstanding environmental profile of our material and production process, having achieved Cradle-to-Cradle and Material Health Silver certifications, as well as the GBCe (Green Building Council Spain) report identifying the value that Honext adds to construction projects that aim at a sustainable certification, such as LEED and BREEAM.
Since the start of the project we have also dedicated a lot of effort in reaching market visibility, through:
1) Creating a new brand identity, Honext, that reflects all our values, such as sustainability, transparency, honesty... Together with the new identity we have developed a new website to better explain our project.
2) Being published in some of the most relevant publications of the architectural world, such as Dezeen, and featured in sector events like Surface Design Show or general audience newspapers, like El Pais or La Vanguardia.
3) Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic we attended several of the most important construction & furniture fairs and exhibitions, such as Smart City Expo Barcelona, Ecobuild London, JEC Show Paris and Rebuild Madrid, among others, to let a broad audience know about Honext.
4) Establishing collaborations with woodworking industrials, to adapt their processes to Honext and thus ensure the best user experience and guarantee the highest quality of transformed Honext.
5) Holding individual meetings with potential clients, such as architects and construction companies, with the aim to introduce Honext in highly visible projects.
Once we have validated the industrial technology as well as Honext market, we have focused our efforts on improving our production equipment as well as designing the next step of our expansion plan, which is to set up a production line within a Paper Mill. The project’s final result is an Investor’s Ready Business Plan which is the key to raise capital and accelerate our growth strategy.
Every year in Europe the Paper Mills generate thousands of tons of primary sludge, their main process residue. Up to now there were three potential methods to get rid of this waste : (1) burning it to generate thermal energy, which requires a high investment and is not very efficient due to the high percentage of water and inorganics in the residue; (2) composting, even though the sludge poor composition does not enrichen the compost mixture; and finally (3) disposed of in landfills. None of these three methods get value out of the waste, but their goal is to get rid of it at the lowest cost.
Thanks to the successful SME Instrument Phase II project, now Paper Mills have an industrially validated process to not only treat the sludge but to generate profit out of it, upcycling it into a very attractive material for the construction and furniture markets. Besides, Honext technology is designed for an easy implementation inside the Paper Mills premises, generating several synergies with these industrials to generate a win-win-win collaboration (local society - industrial - Honext).
As per the technical part of the product, we are about to release a novel European Standard for our material, based on the ETA, that guarantees the technical performance of Honext in the targeted applications as well as differentiating it from other not so mature market innovations.
Regarding impact on the environment, Honext has proven to be a market leader in circularity: not only the material has a lower environmental impact than alternative materials such as MDF, but we have proven to have a production technology with the minimal impact and an expansion strategy designed to achieve full circularity. And we have created a truly singular and valuable brand that reflects all these.
Finally, the business plan developed during the project covers all aspects of the business, putting light to all the initial hypotheses and thus setting the basis to start replicating our production technology inside several Paper Mills over Europe.
Honext finishes 4 - Honext installation example 2
Honext factory (outside)
Torre d_Ara 2 - Picture of the project “Torre d’Ara - Coworking”, a flagship project (2_3)
Torre d_Ara 1 - Picture of the project “Torre d’Ara - Coworking”, a flagship project (1_3)
More than Bees 1 - Picture of the exhibition “More than Bees”, a flagship project (1_3)
Honext team
Honext finishes 1 - Different Honext finishes 1
Paper Mill Primary Sludge
Honext board being produced
Honext finishes 3 - Honext installation example 1
Loading Paper Mill Primary sludge in the system
Honext factory (inside)
Honext Material
Honext finishes 2 - Different Honext finishes 2
More than Bees 1 - Picture of the exhibition “More than Bees”, a flagship project (2_3)