Replacing fossil materials and products with renewables and recyclables is the key to sustainable development. In order to obtain the right properties, research is needed on how the bio-based materials and products can be made stronger, safer and more moldable.
As trade increases worldwide, efficient, durable and smart packaging becomes a necessity. The packaging market is constantly growing. Fiber-based packaging is being developed to replace fossil-based plastics in ever more applications. The development trend is towards more bio-based, lighter packaging and better resource utilisation, without any loss of function which could lead to food wastage. In addition, development is underway towards incorporating more information in packaging, where this would have added value. The temperatures to which a product has been exposed, and whether a drug package has been opened during transport, are examples of information ensured by smart solutions that are built into packages.
The global need for textile fibers has increased rapidly, and poses a major societal challenge. Textiles based on cellulose have great potential both for technical textiles and in fashion and design. The demand for green and sustainable textile fibers is increasing, making textiles from wood fiber interesting. Textile fibers from wood are used, amongst other things, in viscose and lyocell. Circular recycling systems, currently used for packaging and paper, are also being developed for other products, not least for textiles.
Another area in vigorous development is Biocomposites, where several materials, at least one of which is bio-based, are combined.
What research is needed?
A prerequisite for the next generation of bio-based packaging is basic research into understanding cellulose. The development of packaging materials and packaging solutions that are completely bio-based and degradable is becoming increasingly important.
To produce completely bio-based packaging, more research is needed into bio-based barriers so that the materials can withstand wetting, into freely mouldable fiber-based materials as well as into packaging and materials with new built-in smart functions.
In the textile area, research is needed on the separation of various components in the raw material, on the solubility of cellulose, as well as on the development of new sustainable textile fiber processes, and recycling.
For the development of biocomposites, research is needed into how these materials can be optimised for large volume production, and into production processes and moulding.
In the Swedish Forestry Industry's research agenda 4.0, you can read more about the forestry industry's shared needs for research and development.
Important research initiatives
The Treesearch research platform brings together researchers who work with chemicals and with new materials from the forest. For example, research is being done on nanocellulose, hemicellulose and lignin.
The Wallenberg Wood Science Center enables important fundamental research on new materials from the forest to be carried out.
In autumn 2021, BioInnovation, the strategic innovation programme, begins a major initiative aimed at bio-based textiles.
Södra has launched the OnceMore concept, where textile fibers can be recycled into new pulp.
A paper-based bottle has been developed by BillerudKorsnäs and Alpla, in collaboration through the joint venture Paboco.
Stora Enso has launched the wood fiber-based biocomposite material, DuraSense.