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Stora Enso to invest in biocomposite granules and microfibrillated cellulose production

More than just paper: MFC is changing traditional paper and board products recipes.
Photo: Stora Enso
11 Jan 2017 − 

The investment projects are meant to develop new products for packaging, consumer goods and industrial application, and accelerate the company's "transformation into a renewable materials company," says Stora Enso.

Stora Enso plans to invest a total of €21m in two different projects at its paper and board mills in Sweden and Finland. The two investments will be reportedly implemented in the company's consumer board and wood products business divisions. According to Stora Enso, this will expand the company's product portfolio and improve profitability of the corresponding business divisions.

Under the investment plan, Stora Enso will spend €12m for a new production line for biocomposite granules at the Hylte publication paper mill in Sweden. The production line will have an annual capacity of 15,000 t and is scheduled to kick off production during the first quarter of 2018. Biocomposite granules, a mix of wood fibres, polymers and additives, are used as raw material for injection moulding and extrusion applications. They enable the use of "renewable wood to substitute a large portion of the fossil based materials" and "can be used in a wide range of products from consumer goods (dish brushes, pots, etc) to industrial applications, such as pallets or load bearing structures reinforced by glass fibre," Stora Enso explained.

The biocomposite business will belong to company's wood products business. According to Stora Enso, the ramp-up of the new production line is expected to take 2-3 years.

"MFC to meet customer demands for renewable innovations"

Another €9.1m in investment money will go to the company's consumer board division with the scope to "continue the commercialisation of microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) and to accelerate product development of new MFC applications. The new MFC products would include barrier layers for grease and oxygen and biodegradable film as replacement for aluminium in paperboard packaging, the company said. Besides, it is well suited to outperform and replace fossil-based materials in a variety of applications due to its high strength properties and its renewable base stock.

The investment will be implemeted at the Fors board mill in Sweden and Imatra and Ingerois board mills in Finland. The MFC plants are scheduled to start production by the end of 2017, but it would take another 3 to 5 years to ramp up production to full capacity, the company said.

Stora Enso boast itself to be the first company to have successfully launched a commercial paperboard packaging including MFC: Stora Enso is reportedly producing liquid packaging board with MFC in order to reduce raw material consumption and improve board quality for the diary industry.

Six years ago, Stora Enso has already invested €10m in a "nanotechnology project" at its Finnish Imatra mill. The pre-commercial plant for the production of microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) had commenced production in late 2011.With the new investments, Stora Enso plans to increase the production of MFC-containing paperboard packaging to 500,000 tpy.

"We are now taking the next steps in developing and commercialising products using MFC to meet customer demands for renewable innovations. In the future, MFC has the potential to be used in a variety of entirely new products, including many outside of Stora Enso's current portfolio," said Stora Enso's CEO Karl-Henrik Sundström.

Find the entire article and any associated background information in EUWID Pulp and Paper 3/2017.

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