Exploring renewable solutions with wood-based biocomposites

From drinking straws to furniture to bottle caps to housing construction, wood-based biocomposites find more and more applications.

Every day I scan about headlines and my anxiety about environmental concerns starts ramping up. And then I get to work and dive into researching news for CW and start to feel a little better.

There are a lot of companies out there doing good things with renewable, sustainable materials. One such company is Stora Enso (Helsinki, Finland), who earlier this year launched a wood-based biocomposite called DuraSense. 

DuraSense uses renewable fibers as a substitute for plastic. The product is a granular material that is made of a combination of wood fibers, polymers and additives. The product reportedly has the moldability of plastic and the workability of wood. According to Stora Enso, the material can be used to achieve products made out of 98% renewable material, thereby reducing the CO2 footprint of a product by up to 80%. DuraSense is said to be suitable for a range of applications including consumer goods such as furniture, kitchen utensils, toys and other items, as well as industrial applications such as automotive parts.

The company also recently turned its attention to an environmental problem that has gotten a lot of attention lately – drinking straws. Stora Enso on Dec. 4 announced it had teamed up with the startup Sulapac (Helsinki, Finland) to create a solution that could replace plastic drinking straws with renewable ones. The collaboration’s biodegradable straws are based on Sulapac’s wood fiber- and natural binder-based biocomposite material. The goal is for the straws to become commercially available in the second quarter of 2019.

Stora Enso recently announced that it is working to increase the dissolving pulp capacity of its Enocell Mill in Finland in order to meet the growing demand for wood-based textiles. The company says that after the conversion the mill will have an annual dissolving pulp capacity of 430,000 MT.