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Biomass Chemicals Markets

UPM to invest in new biorefinery to produce wood-based biochemicals.

UPM to produce biochemicals bioMPG and bioMEG at planned biorefinery. ©UPM.

“Currently, the supply of biochemicals is very limited. Due to this, high-quality sustainable alternatives are priced at a premium in the markets.”

Forest industry specialist UPM has announced a raft of news, including plans to invest €550m in a biorefinery at Leuna, Germany.

The biorefinery will produce a range of 100% wood-based biochemicals which enable a switch from fossil raw materials to sustainable alternatives in various consumer-driven end-uses.

UPM will convert sold wood into bio-monoethylene glycol (bioMEG) and lignin-based renewable functional fillers.

In addition, the biorefinery will produce bio-monopropylene glycol (bioMPG) and industrial sugars. The total capacity of the biorefinery will be 220,000 tonnes and is scheduled to come online by the end of 2020.

“Molecular bioproducts form one of UPM’s (@UPMGlobal) three strategic focus areas for growth and are at the core of innovating for a future beyond fossils. We have successfully entered the biofuels business and built a profitable business platform. Now we are creating a totally new sustainable business in biochemicals with large growth potential. This is another major milestone in UPM’s transformation and a great showcase of focused and efficient R&D,” said Jussi Pesonen (@jussipesonenUPM) , President and CEO of UPM.

He added: “We help our customers to make their businesses more sustainable. Currently, the supply of biochemicals is very limited. Due to this, high-quality sustainable alternatives are priced at a premium in the markets.”

A combination of sustainable wood supply, unique technology concept, integration into existing infrastructure at Leuna as well as the proximity to customers will ensure competitiveness of operations. The safety and sustainability of the value chain will be based on UPM’s high standards.

Application areas for bioMEG glycol include textiles, PET bottles, packaging, and deicing fluids. BioMPG used for example in composites, pharma, cosmetics, and detergents.

UPM Biochemicals VP Juuso Konttinen said: “We are truly excited to provide the customers world-class sustainable solutions. Renewable raw material and new technologies enable significant improvement in carbon footprint compared to fossil-based products.

“We can also take pride in creating an entirely European value chain, thus being a sustainable local producer.”

Elsewhere, UPM Raflatac has announced that it has produced new recycled content film labels for the home and personal care sector.

“By introducing PE PCR White TC 85 to the market, we showcase our commitment to the circular economy and help brand owners and end users achieve their sustainability targets,” said Anniina Kujala, Segment Manager, Films, UPM Raflatac.

She added: “As the label material contains post-consumer recycled content from household waste and post-industrial recycled content, it reduces the use of virgin feedstocks and therefore saves natural resources, contributing to lower environmental impact. PE PCR White TC 85 can be recycled in standard plastic recycling streams, and gives applications an authentic look that reflects sustainability.”

Separately, UPM announced late January that it had launched a range of bioinks known as GrowInk designed for various 3D bioprinting applications such as tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The company maintained that the inks were not derived from animals.

According to UPM, the two main components of GrowInk Bioinks – nanofibrillar cellulose and water – provide a fully defined matrix that can be mixed directly with cells and customised with additional growth factors or adhesion proteins. Compatible with a large variety of 3D printers, GrowInk Bioinks have been developed to provide exceptional imaging quality, presenting the opportunity to revolutionise research in this area.

Maiju Helin, Head of Sustainability & Market Development at UPM Biofuels, will be speaking at the World Bio Markets Conference, the leading assembly for the bio-based economy, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands on 24th March.


If you were interested in this bioeconomy story, you may also be interested in the ones below. 

Read: UPM Raflatac and UPM Biofuels link up to create wood-based polypropylene film label materials.

Read: Dow teams up with UPM to produce bio-based plastics.

Read: How UPM Biochemicals are maximising the opportunity found in our forests.

Read: Forest-based biomass industry: Where are we today and where are going tomorrow?

Read:Wood fibre + bio-plastic = 98% bio-based kitchen products from Orthex and Stora Enso.

Read:Finland’s Fazer joins eco start-up to further development of wood-based packaging.

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