Stora Enso, headquartered in Helsinki, will build a pilot facility to produce Cellufoam, which it describes as “a lightweight, fiber-based foam material for protective packaging and cushioning.” The company says bio-based foams are renewable and recyclable and can be used in packaging, replacing oil-based polymer foams. The pilot plant will be at Stora Enso’s Fors mill in Sweden.
The initial target application for Cellufoam will be the protective packaging of fragile products, for example in consumer electronics, Stora Enso says. Bio-based foams also have the potential to replace polymeric foams in a range of markets and applications where the demand for sustainable materials is increasing, 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,” says Markus Mannström, executive vice president of Stora Enso’s Biomaterials division. “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. 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,” he adds.
Stora Enso says its pilot aims to evaluate and validate Cellufoam as a packaging foam in customer tests and to further develop the production process. The new pilot plant will be part of Stora Enso’s Biomaterials division and its design and engineering will start immediately. It is estimated that the plant will be ready in the fourth quarter of 2021. The company adds that decisions about commercialization will follow, after evaluating the results of the pilot-scale production.
Stora Enso’s Fors mill produces lightweight paperboard for consumer packaging. The company says the pilot plant investment will not impact the mill’s current production.