Stora Enso is investing EUR 9 million to build a pilot facility for enabling the production of bio-based plastics as barrier in transparent packaging. The pilot plant will convert plant-based sugars into the renewable building block required to make PEF, a bio-based plastic, mainly targeting the food and beverage industry. The pilot plant will be located at Stora Enso's Langerbrugge Mill in Belgium.
The investment in bio-based chemistry further strengthens Stora Enso's opportunities to replace fossil-based materials with renewable and recyclable materials. The pilot plant will focus on developing a cost-competitive process for manufacturing FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid) from sugars.
FDCA is a key component of the bio-based barrier material PEF (polyethylene furanoate). In addition to its renewable nature, PEF's attractive barrier, mechanical and thermal properties open up new packaging opportunities, such as small liquid containers for soft drinks, juices and other beverages.
Stora Enso's pilot aims to validate the chemical process and provide sample material to gain further insight into market need and product demand. The pilot facility will initially use industrially available fructose to produce high-value chemicals and materials for application testing. In the future, the intention is to run the process on sugars extracted from wood and other non-food biomasses.