Introduction to the new ICDLI President Miguel Nogueira

Frankfurt, 2023-05-12. Read here an interview with the ICDLI President Miguel Nogueira (Surforma) on the current development of the HPL industry and interzum 2023.

Miguel Nogueira is the new president of the International Committee of the Laminates Industry, ICDLI. In October 2022, Nogueira was elected in the General Assembly in the context of the European HPL Summit organized by the ICDLI in Bologna, Italy. Nogueira is Managing Director at SURFORMA, a company based near Porto, being part of the Portuguese Sonae Indústria Group. The 51-year-old has a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Porto and lives in Maia. In an interview to the start of his ICDLI presidency, Nogueira gave an outlook on the current challenges of the industry and talks about this year’s interzum fair in Cologne.

ICDLI: Congratulations for the election as new president. Why don't you briefly introduce your company and its product range to us?
Nogueira: SURFORMA has its origins in the Portuguese company Sonae which, in 1959, started producing HPL. Since then, the Sonae group has grown to be very diversified in its activities and, with the purpose of creating its own identity and making its mark in the production and distribution of Laminates and Compacts, has established, in 2018, SURFORMA®, a global brand mainly for the furniture, construction and interior design industries. Innovation is key to its growth and, as such, besides the normal portfolio of products in the family of HPL, SURFORMA has developed products like a range of HPL with fabric in the surface or a thermoforming compact.

ICDLI: Taking a look at your industry, where do you currently see the greatest threats and opportunities?
Nogueira: The durability of HPL when compared to other products make it fitter to solutions that aim for reutilization in a circular economy logic. Furthermore, the technology of HPL production has allowed for some great innovation in the later years. Acrylic solutions for anti-fingerprint are a great example. Other solutions are coming to the market, like HPL made with real fabric, that are an evolution recognized by the architects and specifiers that adds value to the existing solutions. Our Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) also paves the way to recognition of its potential as a solution for greener buildings and furniture. In general, maintaining the competitiveness of the European single market is a core concern for all participants in the ICDLI. The rising energy and raw material prices in recent times, caused primarily by the war in Ukraine, have shown how vulnerable the European economy is. Finding joint answers to this as an HPL industry will be one of the central tasks of our association in the coming months and years.

ICDLI: In your opinion, what is the advantage of being a member of the association, especially in such challenging times?
Nogueira: In order to be heard by authorities, policy makers and other important stakeholders these days, it is necessary for the industry to stand shoulder to shoulder. Individual companies, regardless of their size, are finding it increasingly difficult to get their own message across. In addition, the regulatory environment is becoming more challenging, especially in Europe. Here, we need to exchange information across company and national borders in order to be able to provide facts and information quickly. ICDLI has a key role in the recognition of HPL as a highly resistant and durable product with all the tests and certifications it submits the product to. It also promotes our product range as a good decorative solution for the furniture and interior design industry. Recently, ICDLI also recognized the need to demonstrate the potential of HPL as an environmentally friendly solution, providing its members with the EPD certification. Another aspect where ICDLI exceeds is in the publication of the HPL compendium – which is available in more and more European languages – and its online training on HPL production and utilization.

ICDLI: Your predecessor leaves big footprints behind. Nevertheless, can you already tell what you want to focus on in the next three years of your presidency?
Nogueira: I would very much like to contribute to our understanding of how we can make our products even greener, introducing some studies on circular economy, recyclability, and reutilization of our HPL and compacts. Also, I would like to see the industry evolve into new concepts and technologies that enhance even further the value added of HPL.

ICDLI: For many industries today, it is crucial to become greener and more sustainable. Where do you see the key steps for making progress here?
Nogueira: I believe we, as an industry, are very fortunate that our products last more than most and, as such, there is less need for replacement and more opportunity for reutilization. Nevertheless, it is important that we have a better understanding of the end-of-life of our product range. Is it going to be recycled? Is it incinerated for energy recovery? Does it end up in landfills? Europe has very strict environmental laws, as it should be, but is the right infrastructure in place to make it happen? It might be that some countries will have infrastructures that can separate HPL and compacts from other waste, so that the most sustainable end-of-life approach is applied, while others are lacking the capacity to do so. When it comes to the enforcement of environmental laws, we also have to consider that we are operating in a global market where other regions, competing in the same markets, might not have the same restrictions as companies located in Europe, resulting in an unfair competition.

ICDLI: After the Corona break, interzum, the world-leading trade fair for furniture production and interior design, is currently taking place again in 2023 in Cologne. From your view, what is the significance of the trade fair and what are your expectations of it?
Nogueira: interzum is one of the, if not THE most renowned world trade fair for this industry. Here, the ICDLI always sees a high concentration of users or potential users of HPL and compacts. With our "ICDLI Gallery" in Hall 5.2, we show the entire diversity, variability and potency behind the HPL material system. As an open presentation, it invites all interested parties to get in touch with us. It’s, therefore, the perfect opportunity to showcase that our industry is a solutions provider. It is also an opportunity to communicate how ICDLI can help its clients by providing training and solid information on the product quality and applicability. The good exhibitor numbers and other positive key figures around Interzum 2023 make me cautiously optimistic that, after years of uncertainty, things are moving forward again for our industry without restrictions.

Press release as pdf document

The ICDLI is the international representation of the European laminates manufacturers. The association aims at creating a strong and successful European community of the manufacturers as well as at the continuation of the success story of HPL.

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