In April the California Air Resources Board adopted a new set of regulations that will sharply limit the acceptable levels of formaldehyde in composite-wood products sold in the state. The standards—the strictest of their kind in the world—come nearly three years after the World Health Organization declared the compound a known human carcinogen. Yet formaldehyde remains a common ingredient in adhesives used in wood furniture, countertops, and flooring.
Columbia Forest Products, based in Portland, Oregon, is well positioned to take advantage of the increasingly urgent warnings against its use. In 2005 the company released its formaldehyde-free Pure Bond plywood, and last March it added a particleboard that uses the same nontoxic adhesive technology. The glue, composed of 87 percent soy flour, was developed by a professor at the Oregon State University College of Forestry, and modeled after the adhesive protein that allows mussels to cling to rocks on the coast.
Other formaldehyde alternatives have been used for more than a decade, but Columbia is unique in its commitment to affordable solutions. “Our soy-based Pure Bond adds nothing to the cost—it is cost-neutral,” says John McIsaac, Columbia’s director of communications. This is only true of the plywood so far, but the company plans to roll out larger-scale manufacturing of its particleboard by the end of next year, which should drive its cost down as well. And it’s not going stop there: Columbia is also helping to develop a cost-competitive alternative to MDF made from postharvest recycled rice straw.
Pure Bond particleboard is made from 80 percent preconsumer or postindustrial recycled wood and a soy-based adhesive. It is completely formaldehyde-free.
Pure Bond products are durable,
long-lasting, and resistant to moisture degradation, and they are eligible for LEED credits for low-emitting materials.
Furniture, cabinetry, shelving, casework, flooring, moldings, and wall panels.
Columbia Forest Products
222 SW Columbia St.
Portland, OR 97201