Stora Enso to build a pilot plant for producing Cellufoam

Renewable and recyclable bio-based foams

Stora Enso will build a pilot plant for producing Cellufoam, a bio-based foam material for protective packaging and cushioning. Bio-based foams are renewable and recyclable. Photo – Stora Enso

Finland-based Stora Enso, a pulp, paper, and other forest product manufacturer, will build a pilot facility for producing Cellufoam, a lightweight, fiber-based foam material for protective packaging and cushioning. Bio-based foams are renewable and recyclable and can be used in packaging, such as replacing oil-based polymer foams that are widely used today. The pilot plant will be located at Stora Enso’s Fors Mill in Sweden.

Sustainable packaging material

Cellufoam by Stora Enso is a sustainable packaging material, and it further increases Stora Enso’s opportunities to replace fossil-based materials with renewable and recyclable materials. According to the company, the initial target application for Cellufoam will be the protective packaging of fragile products, such as in consumer electronics. Bio-based foams are said to have the potential to replace polymeric foams in a range of markets and applications where the demand for sustainable materials increases, such as sports equipment, thermal insulation in shipments, and as a growth medium in soil-free farming, among other areas.

“The interest in sustainable packaging solutions is already large and continuously growing. Companies are looking for bio-based materials in order to achieve their own environmental goals for recycling, reducing plastic waste and using fossil-free materials, while maintaining high-quality packaging performance,” says Markus Mannström, executive vice president of Stora Enso’s Biomaterials division.

“Our bio-based foam offers a renewable, recyclable and biodegradable alternative to traditional oil-based packaging foams such as expanded polyethylene (EPE) and expanded polystyrene (EPS). With this pilot, we continue to build on our long-term R&D work while introducing innovative materials to replace fossil-based ones,” Mannström says.

Stora Enso’s pilot aims to evaluate and validate Cellufoam as a packaging foam in customer tests and further develop the production process. The new pilot plant will be part of Stora Enso’s Biomaterials division.

The design and engineering of the pilot facility will start immediately. It is estimated that the plant will be ready in the fourth quarter of 2021. Stora Enso said that the decisions about commercialization would follow after evaluating the pilot-scale production results.

According to the company, Stora Enso’s Fors Mill today produces high-quality lightweight paperboards for consumer packaging. The modern mill’s energy production is free from fossil-CO2 emissions. It is said that the pilot plant investment will not impact the mill’s current production.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

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