Alternative furniture – An eco-friendly solution for your home



In light of growing environmental awareness worldwide and future generations’ collective influence on the furniture market, furniture companies are increasingly focusing on the environmental impact of their procedures. A recent survey conducted by Capstrat Public Policy examplifies just how important sustainable living is to many buyers. The market research found that more than half of the shoppers surveyed would be ready to pay for a product that was more sustainable – even if it was more costly. But how about a cheap and eco-friendly solution? The growing demand for alternative furniture (that is, furniture made from non-wood materials) claims feedstock which is low cost and sustainable: just like Arundo donax, the giant reed.


Alternative furniture from Arundo donax: the qualities of giant reed as furniture feedstock

The long, strong fibres of Arundo donax make this plant a suitable material for fibreboard production (Croon, 2014). Fibreboards are multi-layer boards, widely used not only in the furniture industry, but in the building industry as well.

When compared to other alternatives, such as spruce wood, sunflower stalks, topinambur stalks and Mischantus, giant reed was observed to have a significantly better performance, mainly in terms of MOR (modulus of rupture, that is, bend strength) where figures were from 2-10 times higher than the mentioned species.

As Croon (2014) calculated,

The minimum scale of a commercially interested fibreboard production unit is 35,000 m³/year for which about 36,000 tonnes of dry reed, harvestable from about 3,600 hectare, are required.

To use as alternative furniture feedstock, giant reed can be harvested in every sixth months. Therefore, the fast growth rate of Arundo donax and its high dry mass yields are suitable for this scenario. In his calculations Croon (2014) also pointed out that the cost of transport is partly influenced by the yield: the larger the yield the lower the costs. As Arundo donax can be transported in 600-800 kg/bales, it reduces logistic costs.


In an experiment, it was concluded that all of the properties met the requirements established for stacking, compression, static bending and dynamic compression.

The giant reed boards resisted more than 5000 kilograms of compressive strain, just like the regular, woody ones. The maximum deflection that the containers exhibited was 3.84 mm, which is within the boundaries of the maximum of 6.1 mm allowed.

From the data known today, it can be concluded that alternative furniture from boards made of giant reed are of good quality, which satisfy the requirements of the relevant standard specifications. Since giant reed boards do not need toxic chemicals as binders, and avoiding non-natural substances, the risks to human health and the environment are being reduced.


Alternative furniture from Arundo donax: why is it worth investing into giant reed?

It is worth investing into Arundo donax for various reasons. To start with, the establishment and maintenance of a giant reed plantation requires low input and it is also low cost.

As Arundo donax is a highly tolerant species and adapts well to even extreme conditions – water scarce regions, marginal lands, contaminated sites and even saline soils – it can be planted on otherwise unfavourable sites, thus making use of places where no other plants could survive. Another great advantage of giant reed compared to other crops, is that Arundo donax do not need fresh water irrigation – wastewater is perfect for this purpose without any severe effect on the plant’s yields.

The Effect of WASTEWATER IRRIGATION on Perennial Energy Crops

But how can one profit from having a giant reed plantation? Well, Arundo donax is an energy crop with great biomass yields (50-80 tonnes/hectare/year), and a noteworthy feedstock for biogas, bioethanol, pellets and briquettes, forage feedstock and paper production, just to name a few. Alternative, non-wood furniture production is also possible using giant reed as a material.

Most importantly, however, giant reed particleboard, as a raw material, complies with the requirements of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (94/62/EC) because it is biodegradable and renewable.

For further information and articles on Arundo donax, visit our website! Or send us a message at info@arundobioenergy.com


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