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Circular economy business from wood

Products made from our own country’s green gold can compete with plastics. We are developing new, wood-based business activities together with businesses, research institutes and educational organisations. We’re branching out – from quantity to quality.

What is it about?

Finland’s exports of forestry goods have traditionally focused on the bulk production of wood products, cellulose and cardboard by several large companies. In the future, biomass obtained from forests will be used more and more in textile fabrics, plastics, cosmetics, medicines, chemicals and smart packaging.

In this project, we are taking the use of wood to the next level in co-operation with businesses, research institutes and educational organisations. We are creating for the forestry sector new tools and operating models which will make quality instead of quantity the key characteristic of wood products.

In the circular economy, goods manufactured from wood are made to be as durable as possible so that they can be reused many times, with economic value thus being generated by the same wood material again and again. Wood that is currently discarded will in future be reused in a sustainable way to manufacture new products. Wood products can also acquire intangible value through the use of digital technologies and services.

What do we do?

In the project we are testing out a workshop model for rapid experimentation and innovation. Using this model, forestry businesses, designers and marketers are developing together new business ideas for wood products. During the project, we are also studying the opportunities for developing the circular economy of wood products as well as implementing a new wood product life-cycle calculator and designing a circular economy marketing concept which will be available for all businesses to use.

In addition, the businesses participating in the project are developing together wood products that make use of technology in new ways. The goal is to create new, circular economy business activities in Finland and at the same time boost Finland’s international competitiveness.

Who is participating?

The project’s participants are a group of businesses, research institutes and educational organisations. The Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd (VTT) is co-ordinating the project as a whole and is also organising, in co-operation with Lahti University of Applied Sciences, the events for the forestry, design and marketing sectors that seek to develop new circular economy business models and tools for companies to use.

The Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) is researching the recycling and reuse possibilities for, and the environmental impacts of, used biodegradable and wood-based composite packaging in different European countries, and is also seeking out ways to improve the resource and energy efficiency of the packaging. The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) is developing a life-cycle calculator for bio-based materials. With this tool it will be possible to calculate the environmental impacts of biodegradable, wood-based composite packaging.

Ethica is creating a circular economy marketing model for wood products. Sulapac, Paptic and Elastopoli are developing new kinds of biodegradable cosmetic packaging, plastic bags and furniture materials in co-operation with Lumen and Isku. Also participating in the project’s network are Montisera, Stora Enso and Starcke.

Where are we now?

The project was launched in summer 2018 and will end in September 2019.

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