Green Plants: Stora Enso to build pilot plant for biobased packaging foam; Klöckner Pentaplast to expand recycled PET capacity in US

Stora Enso to build pilot plant for biobased packaging foam

Finnish renewable solutions firm Stora Enso will build a pilot facility for producing Cellufoam, a lightweight, fibre-based foam material for protective packaging and cushioning. Biobased foams are renewable and recyclable and can be used in packaging, for example, to replace oil-based polymer foams which are widely used today. The pilot plant will be located 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. Biobased 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 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. Decisions about commercialisation will follow, after evaluating the results of the pilot-scale production. Stora Enso’s Fors Mill produces light-weight paperboards for consumer packaging. The modern mill’s energy production is free from fossil-CO2 emissions. The pilot plant investment will not impact the mill’s current production.

“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 biobased 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 to further develop the production process. The new pilot plant will be part of Stora Enso’s Biomaterials division.

Klöckner Pentaplast to expand recycled PET capacity in US

In other news, Klöckner Pentaplast (kp), which makes recycled content products and high-barrier protective packaging, is expanding its post-consumer recycled PET extrusion capacity by 17,500 tonnes, to significantly increase its capacity for thermoformed recyclable protein trays in North America. The multimillion-dollar capacity expansion will be located among the eight, North American locations that are best situated to serve its sustainable consumer and protein packaging customer base.

Globally, this is the fourth major expansion for kp. In March it announced a 30% capacity expansion at its Cotia, Brazil, location and in June kp broke ground at its central Virginia location that increased it pharmaceutical films capacity by 6,000 tonnes.

The extrusion capacity expansion, which includes special super-cleaning technology, supports the continuous, increased demand for a higher percentage of post-consumer recycled content (PCR), in various consumer and health packaging applications. The thermoforming expansion responds to an increasing demand for sustainable PCR solutions, says the firm.

“The 17,500 tonne extrusion expansion supports the increased consumer demand for curb-side recyclable options, supporting closed loop packaging, and a circular economy. “As major brands announce robust, sustainability initiatives that includes post-consumer and recyclable packaging, kp will be positioned to service those market needs for the foreseeable future” said Scott Tracey, kp’s CEO. “The extra capacity will also go a long way in supporting our company’s goals for product innovations and sustainability.”


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