Cellulose fibres and renewable bioplastics can be used to produce new, lightweight materials for packaging and construction.
The BeLight project makes porous cellulose structures using foam-forming technology. Funded by Business Finland, the research partners in the two-year project are VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the Tampere University of Applied Sciences. The research and development work is steered by the 14 packaging and construction companies that participate in he project.
The European Union’s sustainability goals and legislation have increased the need for biobased materials and applications. ‘The BeLight project aims at developing biobased, and possibly also biodegradable solutions for lightweight foam structures,’ says project manager Lisa Wikström from VTT.
‘We are currently developing materials and solutions. New, functional and financially profitable solutions could find a market quite rapidly,’ says Wikström.
Among other things, the project aims to find out what types of solutions the materials being studied would be suitable for and how the materials should be developed further. In some cases they can be used to replace polystyrene and other plastics made from oil.
‘We want to see how new materials that replace polystyrene and bubble wrap, for example, can be integrated in current and future recycling processes. Especially at the start, the volume of used material is small and there is no existing system for gathering and recycling it,’ Wikström says.
One of the objectives is, in fact, to develop cellulose fibre foams that could be recycled with current systems for paper or packaging paperboard, at least in some cases.
The companies participating in the project are Artekno Ltd, Finnfoam Ltd, Brightplus Oy, Tikkurila PLC, NMC Cellfoam Ltd, Fiberwood Oy, Paptic Ltd, Evere Ltd, Cre4tive Oy, Eagle Filters Ltd, Aisti Corporation, EarthPac Ltd, Vaisala PLC and Sulapac Ltd.