Transitioning to a More Environmentally Responsible Finish

Jacinthe Roy

The Corporation du développement durable (CDD) and Inovem, the Centre for Innovation in Woodworking and Furniture affiliated with the Cegep de Victoriaville, recently concluded the study that aimed to support the adoption of clean technology in the wood industry.

“Our mission is precisely to accompany organizations in integrating more eco-responsible and circular practices,” said Jacinthe Roy, Executive Director of the CDD. “It was natural for us to support this project so that it could obtain the support of the Écoleader Fund and thus allow participating SMEs to benefit from a subsidy and accompaniment in the transition to techniques that have less impact on the environment.”

As the only research and innovation centre dedicated to the furniture and cabinetmaking sector in the province, Inovem was called upon to work with manufacturing companies ranging from family businesses to multinationals. The centre operates in five sectors: materials and resources of the future, sustainable finishing processes, productivity and 4.0, digital design, and customer experience, and the centre’s mission is to increase the productivity of companies in the sector through the search for innovative and sustainable solutions.

The project consisted of transferring knowledge to businesses in the wood and furniture sector. The objective was to accompany them towards adopting water-based finishing products to replace traditional solvent finishes. Indeed, the latter have harmful effects on the environment, workers’ health, and even the competitiveness of companies. Water-based products can be essential to companies’ environmental and economic footprint. Among the companies supported, Boisdaction of Plessisville participated in this cohort.

“This support allowed us to understand the new technologies and prepare strategically for the transfer. The anticipated reduction in costs will allow the company to remain competitive,” said Francis Déry, Boisdaction president.

Inovem conducted a diagnosis of the finishing process of each company and a feasibility study for a transition to water-based paint. In terms of support, Inovem set up a training course on low environmental impact products for the companies and evaluated the quality criteria of the new products. The impact of the cohort is more than positive. For the three companies, the study revealed an average potential reduction of 93% in volatile organic compounds (VOCs) related to finishing and a 50% acceleration in the drying time of parts. On the economic side, the results also showed a reduction in waste sent to landfills equivalent to several thousand dollars per year. With such results, the Ste-Hyacinthe-based company Finitions Prestige JB has already begun the transition process within its company.

“The quality of the finish is the number one priority in our production. Thanks to the study conducted with Inovem, the results have exceeded our expectations,” said Simon Roy, the company’s owner.

Inovem has developed expertise in finishing in the wood and furniture sector over the past ten years. The centre wants to support many other companies in transitioning to more environmentally friendly finishing products.

“The transition brings significant reductions in not only air pollutants, but also health benefits for workers, better retention of painters and, more often than not, a reduction in operating costs,” said Marc-André Bérubé, project manager for industrial finishing at Inovem.

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