Stora Enso, Sweden, announced plans to invest EUR $9 million to build a pilot facility that produces bio-based plastics as barrier in transparent packaging. The Langerbrugge Mill, Belgium-based pilot plant will convert plant-based sugars into the renewable building block required to make PEF (a bio-based plastic) for the food and beverage industry.

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 process for manufacturing furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) from sugars.

“Bio-based materials are of rapidly growing interest in the packaging world, as companies look for sustainable packaging materials with high performance,” says Markus Mannström, executive vice president of Stora Enso’s biomaterials division. “With this pilot, we continue to build on our long-term R&D work while targeting new markets with innovative, renewable materials that replace fossil-based materials. We believe that innovation does not happen in isolation. We are, therefore, looking forward to expanding our cooperation within the field of bio-based chemicals.”

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.

The new pilot project will be run by Stora Enso’s biomaterials division, with construction beginning in the second half of 2020. The plant is estimated to be ready in the first quarter of 2021.