Innovation

Paper product developed as ‘sustainable alternative’ to plastic

Durapulp box, designed by Rasmus Malbert
Photo: Rasmus Malbert

Paper and technical fibres manufacturer James Cropper Plc and forestry co-operative Södra have developed a new paper product that can be used as a ‘sustainable alternative’ to plastic.

Developed to ‘provide a credible alternative to fossil-based materials’, the material, known as DuraPulp, is produced by heat pressing  wood fibres and a ‘renewable, non-fossil based biopolymer’.

Able to ‘take on the properties of plastic’, DuraPulp can take on a rigid form or be used as a sheet (i.e for producing a product which requires ‘bend tolerance’ or air permeability).

The two companies state that unlike other composite products, DuraPulp is believed to be the only one available where the primary content is pulp fibre and draw on 100 per cent renewable resources, while remaining completely biodegradable. The product can reportedly be composted within 100 days and is strong enough to ‘carry the weight of an adult’.

It is hoped that the product will be used as a ‘lightweight, sustainable alternative to plastic’ for packaging and product design, especially those in the luxury fashion, cosmetics, automotive and interior design sectors.

To date, Södra has produced a range of products from DuraPulp, including a ‘paper-thin, waterproof chair’, moulded packaging (see image above), and an electric desk lamp.

The material’s biodegradability has also been tested, with Södra usng it as a seed pod to grow plants in after the fibre has broken down (see image below).

'A game-changing product'

A DuraPulp seed pod

Patrick Willink, Chief Technology Officer of James Cropper, said: “Sustainability has to be at the heart of manufacturing for the future, both for cost-effective production and the responsible protection of the environment for future generations…

“This partnership is driven not only by the desire to help DuraPulp take on the global burden of non-degradable plastics, which are still widely used, but also to apply our key strengths of an unrivalled colour palette and international marketing expertise to a game-changing product.”

Anna Altner, Södra's Project Manager for DuraPulp, added: "James Cropper's extensive technical competence and global market reach will mean that we will be able to speed up the commercialisation of DuraPulp.

"Initially, the collaboration will involve niche and high-end packaging related applications but we do see wide potential opportunities, including the horticulture market", Jacqueline Redman, Strategic Marketing and Innovation Manager at James Cropper, concluded.

Find out more about DuraPulp.