Stora Enso is planning to make investments in its consumer board mills located in Imatra and Ingerois, Finland; and Fors in Sweden.

The €9.1m investment will be aimed at further commercialisation of the company’s microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) and accelerating product development capabilities.

As part of the new investment, Stora Enso will develop new MFC applications, which includes barrier layers for grease and oxygen, and a biodegradable film that can replace aluminium in paperboard packaging.

The investment will also enable Stora Enso to manufacture lighter packaging materials by multiplying the capacity for paperboard packaging with MFC to 500,000t.

The plants in Finland and Sweden with added capacities are expected to become operational by the end of this year, with anticipation to reach full production within three to five years.

"We are now taking the next steps in developing and commercialising products using MFC to meet customer demands for renewable innovations."

Stora Enso CEO Karl-Henrik Sundström said: “We are now taking the next steps in developing and commercialising products using MFC to meet customer demands for renewable innovations.

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“In the future, MFC has the potential to be used in a variety of entirely new products, including many outside of Stora Enso’s current portfolio.”

Initially, the company was engaged in the liquid packaging board segment and had developed a commercial paperboard packaging including MFC.

MFC, which features high-strength properties and provides completely renewable raw material sources, can be used as an alternative to current fossil-based materials, such as plastics, in various applications.  

Since 2015, Stora Enso has been using MFC for source reduction and to improve board quality in its dairy category.