EUROSTARS project for fibre-based packaging concluded

PulPac and Bio-Lutions have brought their joint Eurostars project to a successful conclusion. (Image: PulPac)

PulPac in Sweden is cooperating with the Bio-Lutions start-up in Germany in a project that’s aimed at replacing single-use plastics across the globe. The two companies intend to transform natural fibres that the start-up sources from agricultural waste into fibre-based packaging using the dry-moulded-fibre technology for moulding fibres that the company in Sweden has developed. The project was funded by Eurostars.

It received financial support from the Eurostars funding programme and has now been brought to a successful conclusion. The project work involved designing, building and testing a prototype machine to produce dry-moulded fibres by adapting standard components traditionally used in the production of plastic products. The aim was to validate components for international packaging markets that are also able to use agricultural waste as a raw material that’s added to the standard pulp. The two companies were able to achieve this aim: The machine has been validated for production in the increasingly growing fibre-packaging markets and it has been demonstrated that dry-moulded fibre benefits from the addition of agricultural waste to the standard pulp. The project saw PulPac combining its fibre-forming technology with new machine components from the plastics industry while Bio-Lutions conducted the pilot tests using its Fibcro fibres. The first products are to be launched sometime in 2023.

Cellulose fibres to replace disposable plastic

PulPac says that its dry-moulded-fibre technology helps save significant amounts of water and energy while the process is fast and more efficient than conventional approaches to fibre-moulding. “Cellulose fibres are the obvious solution for the global substitution of single-use plastics and these results confirm one route that the plastics industry could take to accelerate the transition to sustainable dry-moulded fibres. This technology allows packaging and products to be made that are biodegradable and recyclable as well as cost-efficient and that support the circular flow economy using renewables. I’m really looking forward to launching new solutions based on this project later this year,” says Ove Larsson, Chief Technology Innovation Officer at PulPac.

Bio-Lutions in turn mechanically converts agricultural waste into self-binding and long-lasting natural Fibcro fibres. This patented process eliminates the need for binding agents and the use of chemicals to insulate the cellulose. These fibres are now being used to produce a variety of sustainable disposable products, such as cutlery and tableware for takeaways and fruit and vegetable packaging, using PulPac’s dry-moulding technology. “We’re very proud to have concluded this research and development project and have validated a new innovative solution while demonstrating the options for combining Bio-Lutions’ natural Fibcro fibres made from agricultural waste with the process of dry moulding for fibres,” said Eduardo Gordillo, CEO at Bio-Lutions.

International support program for SMEs

Eurostars is the largest international funding programme for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) wishing to collaborate on research and development projects that are aimed at the development of innovative products, processes or services and their marketing. The cross-border funding programme hopes to help innovative SMEs engage in bilateral and multilateral cooperation. ‘Eurostars 3’ – the programme’s third phase – in which more than 35 countries worldwide are participating was launched in 2021. The above PulPac and Bio-Lutions project was also funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research and Vinnova, which is Sweden’s innovation agency.

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