(05/23/2023 / sbr)

Södra begins journey towards premium strength, sustainable agro-enhanced softwood pulp

In line with Södras strategy to support a more circular, sustainable society, to strive for resource efficiency and to maximise the use of their members’ wood while adding value for customers, Södra is investigating the possibilities for a ground-breaking new pulp which will combine wood from Södra’s sustainably managed forests in southern Sweden with agricultural residue from sources close to our pulp mills.

Södra has long had a reputation for sustainable innovation in the pulp industry, from driving the introduction of totally-chlorine free (TCF) bleaching in the 1990s to its recent ground-breaking new textile pulp giving new life to post-consumer textile, OnceMore® and the world’s first pulpable bale strap, FiberSafe®. The latest innovation combines agricultural residues with softwood pulp to produce a new product which is resource-efficient, sustainable and performance-enhancing for papermakers.

Södra has been investigating the use of agricultural residues as a strength-enhancing ingredient in pulp for some time. Following extensive research and development, Södra now has the expertise and technology to use agricultural residues to create an agro-enhanced softwood pulp with significant tensile-strength enhancing properties, especially in the lower refining range.

“This process has the potential to deliver advantages for customers, our members and the environment by challenging the status quo,” explains Lotta Lyrå, CEO Södra. “It encapsulates our circular perspective, our desire to cooperate throughout the value chain for more sustainable solutions and the idea that we can pass the best of forest innovation from one family to another, from our members’ forests to the consumer.“

Next steps ahead

Some agricultural residues are today used for animal feed. Södra will not compete for this proportion. From a circular perspective, creating a new purpose for residue before incineration adds value and circularity for their members, suppliers, customers, and end consumers.

“It is important to note that the agricultural residues would not replace the wood from our members’ forests but act as a premium ingredient to produce a high-performing grade of pulp. For paper customers, a small percentage of the agricultural residues in the agro-enhanced softwood pulp will bring significant tensile strength to final sheet properties,“ says Catrin Gustavsson, Executive Vice President Södra Innovation.

Södra are now exploring the next step, which is to run production campaigns. And with this innovation Södra is just at the beginning of the journey towards a more sustainable future.