Stora Enso will invest €9 million in a pilot facility to produce bio-based plastics as barrier in transparent packaging. The recent investment further strengthens the company’s opportunities to replace fossil-based materials with renewable and recyclable materials.
Located at the manufacturer’s Langerburgge Mill in Belgium, the pilot plant will convert plant-based sugars into the renewable building block required to make PEF, a bio-based plastic, for the food and beverage industry.
According to Stora Enso, as well as its renewable nature, PEF’s barrier, mechanical and thermal properties will open up new packaging opportunities, including small liquid containers for soft drinks, juices and other beverages.
With its pilot facility, the Finland-based company intends to validate the chemical process and provide sample material to gain further insight into market need and product demand.
Stora Enso will initially use industrially available fructose to produce high-value chemicals and materials for application testing, however in the future, the company plans to run the process on sugars extracted from wood and other non-food biomasses.
The Langerbrugge paper mill produces 540,000 tonnes of recycled newsprint and magazine papers annually, according to Stora Enso. While the mill provides space and infrastructure for hosting the pilot plant, the investment will not impact the mill’s paper production.
“Bio-based materials are of rapidly growing interest in the packaging world as companies look for sustainable packaging materials with high performance,” says Markus Mannström, executive VP of Stora Enso’s biomaterials division.
Mannström added: “With this pilot, we continue to build on our long-term R&D work while targeting new markets with innovative, renewable materials that replace fossil-based materials. We believe that innovation does not happen in isolation. We are, therefore, looking forward to expanding our cooperation within the field of bio-based chemicals.”
Construction of the facility will begin in the second half of 2020 and the plant is expected to be ready in the first quarter of 2021.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020