Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Terracore Plastic Company

What is the name of your solution?

Terra-MDF: Water-resistant MDF

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Terra-MDF is a durable and water-resistant building panel made from 100% ocean and landfill-bound waste plastic and industrial wood waste.

Film your elevator pitch.

What specific problem are you solving?

Traditional Medium Density Fiberboard (Commonly known as MDF), is a widely used and versatile building material. However, there are several negative aspects associated with this material, relating to environmental impacts and costs.

One of the main drawbacks of traditional MDF is its potential impact on indoor air quality. MDF is made by combining wood fibers with formaldehyde-based resins, which can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are harmful to human health. The emission of these VOCs can cause mucous-membrane irritation, and in some cases, can lead to respiratory problems and other health issues. While various manufacturers have taken steps to reduce the formaldehyde content of their MDF panels, this remains an issue. Furthermore, the non-formaldehyde resins have many negative attributes as well, including lower strength.

In addition to its potential impact on indoor air quality, traditional MDF is also highly susceptible to moisture and water damage. MDF panels are made by compressing wood fibers and resin together using heat and pressure, which can cause them to absorb moisture if they are not properly sealed. This can lead to warping, cracking, and decay, particularly in humid environments or areas that are prone to water damage. As a result, MDF may deteriorate when used in bathrooms, kitchens, or in flood-prone or high-humidity environments. This can lead to additional costs to homeowners and home builders, which is specifically an issue in today's high-cost construction environment.

Another negative aspect of traditional MDF is its environmental impact. While MDF is often touted as an eco-friendly alternative to solid wood, many MDF panels are made from virgin wood fibers. This contributes to deforestation and environmental degradation, particularly if the input material is sourced unsustainably or illegally. Additionally, MDF cannot be easily recycled or repurposed, meaning that it often ends up in landfills at the end of its useful life.

Various builders report that traditional MDF is difficult to work with due to its high density, the inability of the panels to hold screws and nails, and the materials' degradation of sawblades when cutting the panel.

The potential impact on indoor air quality, susceptibility to moisture and water damage, and environmental concerns should all be taken into account when evaluating the suitability or usability of MDF for building projects. Evidently, a superior building material with the ability to address these issues is needed.

What is your solution?

Terracore's Terra-MDF panel is an eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to traditional Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) panels.

Unlike traditional MDF panels, Terra-MDF is made using a proprietary blend of recycled plastics and natural fibers that are free from formaldehyde-based resins. This makes it an environmentally-friendly choice that does not release harmful VOCs into the environment. In addition to being eco-friendly, Terra-MDF is highly resistant to moisture and water damage, making it ideal for use in wet or humid environments.

Terra-MDF is also incredibly durable and strong, making it a suitable choice for heavy-duty applications. It can be easily cut, drilled, and routed using standard woodworking tools, making it a versatile choice for a wide range of construction and woodworking projects.

Terracore Plastics' commitment to sustainability is also reflected in its manufacturing processes. By using waste materials in the production of Terra-MDF, the company is able to reduce waste and minimize the environmental impact of plastic waste. Through the use of these input materials, the carbon footprint associated with the manufacturing process makes Terra-MDF an environmentally-conscious choice for consumers and businesses alike. Not only does Terracore use waste materials in its manufacturing process, but its unique vertically-integrated processing techniques allow unprocessed waste material that would otherwise be landfilled to be fully processed and turned into usable material all under the same roof.

The general production process includes the collection of waste material, processing through grinding, washing, and sorting, mixing the various materials, and molding them using various woodworking machinery to produce a low-cost and uniform end product.

In summary, Terra-MDF from Terracore Plastics is an excellent solution thanks to the panel's environmentally-friendly, durable, and versatile properties. With its exceptional performance and sustainability, Terra-MDF is a product that can beneficially impact both consumers and businesses.

Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

The Terra-MDF panel offers several benefits for contractors, homeowners, and even municipalities by offering solutions to multiple challenges.

Currently, contractors and homeowners are underserved in terms of building materials that are sustainable, durable, and easy to work with. Traditional MDF panels, while popular and widely used, have several drawbacks that make them less than ideal. These include susceptibility to moisture, warping, cracking, decay, high market price, difficulty to work with, as well as potential health hazards from the use of formaldehyde-based resins.

Terra-MDF addresses these needs by providing a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional MDF panels. It is made entirely from recycled plastic and wood waste, which reduces the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills or oceans. By using Terra-MDF, contractors and homeowners can promote sustainability and reduce their environmental impact.

Additionally, Terra-MDF is far more durable and moisture-resistant than traditional MDF panels. This makes it ideal for use in high-moisture areas like bathrooms and kitchens, as well as in outdoor applications. It can also reduce the damage and costs of floods thanks to the panel's water resistance, as well as prolong the life of the panel thanks to its ability to withstand general wear and tear. This can save homeowners massive amounts of money, which can be particularly impactful for low-income individuals or those living in disaster-prone areas. As climate change produces new, and increases the impact of preexisting environmental concerns such as floods, products like Terra-MDF will be necessary to increase global climate-change resiliency.

It is also easier to work with, creating less dust and debris compared to traditional MDF, making it safer and reducing mess for both contractors and homeowners.

Furthermore, Terra-MDF has a consistent color throughout the panel, making it more aesthetically pleasing to use without any type of covering like the expensive and time-consuming application of custom melamine. It is also easier to finish with paint due to its reduced solvent absorption. Its lower potential impact on indoor air quality is also an advantage for those who prioritize indoor air quality and for those who are sensitive to chemical odors.

By addressing the needs and challenges of contractors and homeowners, Terra-MDF offers several benefits. For contractors, it provides a more sustainable and durable building material that is also easier and safer to work with and causes less wear-and-tear on equipment such as saw blades. For homeowners, it offers a more environmentally-friendly, affordable, moisture-resistant, and higher-durability alternative to traditional MDF that is also aesthetically pleasing, has a lower impact on air quality, and reduces long-term costs. The panel also benefits municipalities and the global environment through lower-CO2 emissions compared to traditional MDF, alongside reduced landfill volume. As the facilities to produce the panel are low-cost to set up and may be located in almost any community, they have the ability to provide many jobs and have significant positive economic impacts.

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

Terracore Plastic Company and its leadership are well-positioned to deliver Terra-MDF as a solution to climate, waste, and housing issues in several ways.

Firstly, the unique production methods of Terra-MDF panels from post-consumer waste were developed internally by Terracore's team, with underserved communities in mind. Myles Peterson grew up in a community underserved in terms of recycling, therefore the product and its methods of production were developed with these communities in mind, particularly with the goal of reducing the amount of plastic waste that would otherwise end up in landfills or oceans. One of the largest problems with modern-day recycling is that over 90% of plastic ends up as waste. Terracore has developed novel manufacturing processes to set up small-scale factories to ensure that large quantities of plastic waste can be processed near both the consumer of the plastic waste material and the consumer of the panel product. These small-scale factories can be set up almost anywhere with an investment of under $1 million, which make them accessible to underserved communities. Not only do these facilities produce panels, but they are designed to be vertically integrated to transform municipal waste into a usable end product.

Living in Canada, Terracore and its leadership are well aware of the cost-of-living crisis, especially as it relates to the building industry. Certain members of the Terracore team have faced severe financial hardship and poverty, and are incredibly focused on low-cost manufacturing techniques to reduce the cost and increase the longevity of building materials to allow for cost-savings for both builders and consumers. Terracore's patent-pending technology and manufacturing process allow them to produce Terra-MDF panels at a lower cost and with fewer energy inputs than traditional MDF panels. This cost-effectiveness makes Terra-MDF a more accessible and affordable option for contractors and homeowners, which in turn helps to drive the adoption of sustainable building materials and practices.

Terracore's primary facility is currently located in Central Alberta, ensuring a large supply of waste plastic and access to national and international transportation and shipping abilities. 

Certain members of Terracore's leadership have significant experience in the building industry and are therefore able to provide invaluable insight into the needs of construction companies and aid in product development.

Certain members of the leadership team have backgrounds in property management and real estate and are able to advise Terracore on best practices to provide the most amount of value to consumers.

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Support informal communities in upgrading to more resilient housing, including financing, design, and low-carbon materials or energy sources.

In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Red Deer, Alberta

What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: An organization testing a product, service, or business model with a small number of users

How many people does your solution currently serve?

The pilot plant has the ability to produce enough panels to develop one single-family home every two days. This may be scaled up very rapidly to produce many lifts (48-panel stacks) per day.

Why are you applying to Solve?

Terracore is applying to Solve to find solutions to financial, legal, and partnership issues. 

Firstly, Terracore requires investment to build out its primary facility to produce adequate numbers of panels to reach profitability. Terracore is searching for investment partners for its Terra-MDF product to be able to fund approximately $1 million in equipment. The aid that Solve may be able to provide in regard to funding could include connection to investors interested in eco-friendly products, and further aid in creating a pitch to attract these investors.

Terracore is also searching for marketing and distribution partners throughout North America to reach as large of a population as possible. Ensuring both public and corporate awareness of these products will be necessary for widescale adoption. Terracore requires a "foot-in-the-door" to large distributors to make a large scale environmental and social impact with Terra-MDF.

Lastly, Terracore will require legal advice in various forms, including protection of IP, and ensuring that all governmental regulation is followed throughout various regions.

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Financial (e.g. accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Human Capital (e.g. sourcing talent, board development)
  • Legal or Regulatory Matters
  • Product / Service Distribution (e.g. delivery, logistics, expanding client base)
  • Public Relations (e.g. branding/marketing strategy, social and global media)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Myles Peterson

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

Firstly, the Terra-MDF is a sustainable and environmentally-friendly building material that is made entirely from reprocessed waste. This approach to manufacturing building materials is innovative, as it addresses the problem of plastic waste in the environment while also reducing the need for virgin wood in traditional MDF, and reducing overall landfill waste. The use of waste material significantly reduces the cost of manufacturing the product; savings may be passed down to the consumer to reduce building and home ownership costs.

Moreover, Terracore's novel technology and manufacturing process allow for the production of Terra-MDF with fewer energy inputs than traditional MDF panels. This significantly improves the carbon footprint of the panel compared to traditional market incumbents.

In addition, Terra-MDF is more durable and moisture-resistant than traditional MDF panels currently on the market. This makes it ideal for a wider range of applications that currently do not have a high-quality product to fulfill various niches.

Its consistent color throughout the panel also makes it easier to finish with paint or stain, providing more flexibility for design choices and reducing the time and cost to work with compared to traditional MDF to provide savings to homeowners and contractors. 

Terra-MDF's lower potential impact on indoor air quality due to its use of waste thermoplastic resins also sets it apart from traditional MDF panels, potentially reducing health risks to consumers. There is no MDF on the market that creates very small amounts of dust when cut, an innovation of the Terra-MDF that could significantly help contractors and builders.

Overall, Terra-MDF is innovative in its approach to sustainability, durability, and cost-effectiveness. Its use of exclusively waste material, improved moisture and abrasion resistance, and consistent color throughout the panel set it apart from traditional MDF panels. The technology and manufacturing process developed by Terracore allows for a far more efficient production process and lower costs, making Terra-MDF a more accessible and affordable option for contractors and homeowners.

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

With successful funding, the Terracore Plastic Company will focus on specific impact goals over the next year and the following four years. These include plastic and wood waste sequestered and removed from the environment or the waste system, the reduction of traditional MDF waste, the amount of CO2 savings, and a quantitative reduction of building costs from MDF-style paneling.

With a full-scale production plant, Terracore would attempt to achieve utilization of 500,000 lbs of waste material within the first year of production and scale up to 1.2 million pounds of waste material per year between years one and five. 

As each 3/4" panel has the ability to sequester approximately 130-150lbs of stored CO2, and may produce up to 40lbs less CO2 per panel than manufacturing methods for traditional MDF, Terracore will aim to sequester approximately 3.6 million lbs per year by year five of production. This sequestration rate could have an impact equivalent to 75,000 fully-grown trees per year.

Through the production of a superior product, Terracore will aim to reduce the costs of contractor and homeowner waste. Terracore is currently unable to determine what the savings for the end user could be, as it is highly dependent on the use case.

Through our innovative, vertically-integrated manufacturing processes, Terracore will be able to provide high-paying jobs to both skilled and unskilled laborers around the world in many communities.

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  • 13. Climate Action
  • 15. Life on Land

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

To meet Terracore's primary goal of waste reduction and sequestration, Terracore will be able to calculate its progress by calculating the mass and volume of input waste and output product, as well as work with regional waste collectors, processors, and landfills to determine the impact of each facility.

To measure and quantify the impact of the Terra-MDF on CO2 emissions and sequestration, Terracore will work with industry professionals to estimate and calculate the overall CO2 reduction from the production of Terra-MDF compared with traditional MDF.

Terracore will work with contractors to determine their current MDF waste from sources such as climate-related water damage and compare it to the waste created from Terra-MDF at the end of a given period to calculate savings.

Terracore's factories will be able to provide high-paying jobs and economic growth to many communities, the impact of which may be calculated by the investments to build and run the facilities, as well as the payroll for these high-value-adding jobs which would otherwise not exist.

What is your theory of change?

Firstly, Terra-MDF has the potential to have a significant impact on the waste problem by diverting post-consumer plastic waste from landfills and repurposing it into a high-quality building material. Every year, approximately 400 million tons of plastic waste are generated globally, and much of it ends up in landfills, where it can take hundreds of years to decompose. By using this waste as a raw material, Terra-MDF directly reduces the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfills, thus reducing environmental pollution and preserving natural resources. 

Terracore's Terra-MDF can significantly reduce CO2 emissions through both the sequestration of waste and the reduction of overall material production. Based on the EPA's statistics, each 3/4" Terra-MDF panel will be able to reduce the CO2 output of the degraded waste plastic by approximately 130-150lbs, while reducing the CO2 generated by each replaced traditional MDF panel by approximately 5-40 lbs, all of which could lead to a positive CO2 impact of up to 200lbs per 3/4"x48"x96" standard MDF panel.

Furthermore, the amount of overall waste produced may be reduced thanks to the panel's resistance to water and physical stresses. For example, if a house floods, traditional MDF baseboards will absorb water and will require replacement, which will produce waste and lead to further consumption. Terra-MDF baseboards are resistant to water, which will allow for their continued use post-flooding. This will reduce material consumption, and waste generation, and improve resiliency against climate-change-induced flooding.

 As the majority of waste generated each year is either landfilled or discarded, Terracore's factories will be able to provide high-paying jobs in many communities by utilizing high-value-adding manufacturing techniques by transforming waste directly into building materials. This will strengthen local economies by directly creating new jobs in these communities where they would not previously exist.

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The core technology behind Terra-MDF is the Terracore Plastic Company's process for transforming post-consumer plastic waste and wood fiber waste into a high-quality and sustainable building material. This technology relies on the replacement of the VOC-producing thermoset resins used in traditional MDF panels with low-grade waste plastic, and the replacement of virgin wood powder with wood waste. By using otherwise waste plastic and waste wood, Terracore is able to find a new use for these materials.

The overall production process involves several steps and includes a combination of techniques from various industries, primarily plastic, and woodworking. Steps include cleaning, shredding, sorting, and mixing the waste plastic with recovered wood waste. This material is then processed further, and compressed under high pressure and temperature to form the Terra-MDF panels.

Terracore's combination of various technology allows for control over the composition and properties of the panels, resulting in a consistent and high-quality product. The company's manufacturing process also minimizes waste and energy inputs, reducing the carbon footprint associated with the production of building materials.

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new application of an existing technology

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Manufacturing Technology
  • Materials Science
Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models

How many people work on your solution team?

2 full-time product and equipment developers, 3 secondary advisors.

How long have you been working on your solution?

2 years

What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?

The Terracore Plastic Company has made an effort to ensure diversity in its business by employing LGBTQIA+ and diverse individuals within its leadership structure. Terracore's human resources policies ensure that any potential discrimination may be minimized and that all individuals are given equal pay based solely upon performance. 

Terracore also employs multiple individuals with disabilities and fosters a culture of inclusivity and anti-discrimination. With the expansion of production, Terracore will be able to employ many individuals of different abilities in various positions at the company.

The Terracore Plastic Company strives to provide equity to its communities with low-cost manufacturing methods which allow the company to set up many facilities around the world, including in many disadvantaged communities to provide high-paying jobs and room for advancement to those who would not be able to traditionally access such opportunities. 

The founder of the company grew up in a small community with parents from a disadvantaged, west-Asian minority group, and has personal experience in ensuring equity for all groups within the company.

Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

The business model of the Terracore Plastic Company is based on a vertically-integrated recycling process, which involves processing low-grade post-consumer plastic waste alongside other input materials such as wood waste to research, develop, and manufacture innovative building products, primarily Terra-MDF, but other products including the EcoFlake Flooring Flake.

Terracore focuses on sourcing plastic waste from various sources, such as landfills, industrial scrap, and consumer waste, and processing it using proprietary recycling technology and methods to create high-quality plastic and plastic-composite products. By using waste as a raw material, Terracore is not only able to reduce the amount of landfill and ocean-bound waste and create sustainable, environmentally-friendly products, but also create high-value adding products by using low-value and undesirable input materials.

To generate revenue, Terracore partners with distributors and contractors to reach new markets and the end consumer by producing and selling large volumes and quantities of its products. By collaborating with other companies, Terracore can leverage its expertise in recycling and product development to create innovative products to meet the specific needs of the consumer and community and decrease the costs of its partners. Through these novel products and processing techniques, Terracore is able to gain a competitive advantage in the areas of sustainability, price, and overall benefits provided by the newly-developed products.

Through small factories and environmental benefits, Terracore is able to greatly reduce the shipping and manufacturing costs of its products by locating its factories near partners on both the supply and sales end.

Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?

Organizations (B2B)

What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?

Terracore has been unsuccessful in obtaining the necessary funds to build out the Terra-MDF manufacturing line. Coming from a marginalized community, the founders of Terracore have found it difficult to obtain the necessary investment to commercialize the company's products. 

To become financially sustainable through the production of Terra-MDF, Terracore requires funding through grants or investments, and connections to distributors and retailers to build a full-scale factory to produce and sell the Terra-MDF panels. Thanks to the lean-manufacturing techniques developed by Terracore, the company would have the ability to become profitable within the first year of production, and then continue to build further facilities to increase the production of its products.

Share some examples of how your plan to achieve financial sustainability has been successful so far.

Thus far, the company has been able to garner approximately $150,000 in private investment from individuals in the Central Alberta area to develop and commercialize its EcoFlake flooring product. The EcoFlake product is currently being presented to contractors to generate revenue to cover expenses, sales of which began in March of 2023. Thus far, approximately $1000 of flake has been sold, as the product is only at the very beginning of its adoption curve. Terracore will employ a diverse sales team across Canada to increase the adoption of the flake, as it provides many benefits to flooring contractors and the end consumer.

The Terra-MDF panel requires approximately $1 million in investment and a distributor to achieve sustained production, market acceptance, and profitability. Once profitability is obtained, further small factories will be developed to increase production.

Solution Team

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