Rottneros – the pulp mill of tomorrow

Our industry-cooperation partner Rottneros is the innovative pulp mill with a strong business mindset. We called them to talk about the cooperation with startup Biosorbe and their initiative Rottneros Packaging, which recently resulted in the introduction of unique moulded fibre trays for fresh food and takeaway. 

 Sting Bioeconomy cooperates with globally recognized industry partners such as Nordic Paper, Billerud Korsnäs and Rottneros. They provide startups with access to advanced test beds and invaluable contact networks. In this article, we focus on one of our industry partners, pulp mill Rottneros, and our guides are Group President Lennart Eberleh and Chief Innovation Officer Nils Hauri.

“We see Rottneros as an exciting potential business partner for our startups”

Rottneros Bruk develops and produces top-quality pulp in Sunne and Söderhamn. Having a broader product range than any other player in the industry globally, Rottneros helps customers find the right type of pulp for their products.

Being smaller than its competitors is the company’s strength. Headquartered in Sunne, and with important management functions and decision makers in Karlstad, Rottneros is an agile cooperation partner with streamlined decision-making.

“Rottneros is an industrial company acting in a modern way, and they quickly investigate the opportunities that may be of benefit to their business operations in the near future. Their innovation mindset suits us very well. We see Rottneros as an exciting potential business partner for our startups,” says Sting Bioeconomy’s CEO Victor Isaksen.

Recyclable moulded fibre trays

Strong innovation mindset

The intrepid attitude of Rottneros characterizes the whole organization, and Chief Innovation Officer Nils Hauri is a leading figure when it comes to innovation and development, such as in the Rottneros Packaging project. A little over a month ago, Rottneros launched a new generation of recyclable moulded fibre trays for refrigerated prepared meals and dishes. That is an innovation of world-class quality, and a product never before available in the Swedish market. Based on certified forest raw material, the fibre tray reduces the use of plastic by up to 85% and keeps food fresh longer – a successful example of the pulp mill refining its own pulp.

The continued development of the product has been going on for a long time, and Rottneros is now in the process of working out more environmentally sound and climate-smart packaging, capable of withstanding all types of food moisture. Thereby, the use of plastic can be significantly reduced or even completely eliminated, which has also shown to contribute to a reduced carbon footprint compared to traditional fossil-based packaging.

“We’re fast-paced and can say yes to ideas if we have the resources”

Since the Rottneros group does not own their paper machines but only resells their pulp, they can also look at other business areas that may be of interest. An example is the cooperation with startup Biosorbe, now located at the Rottneros premises, for the development of new pulp-based filter technology for air and water purification.

“We’re small compared to many of our competitors. We must therefore be very selective, choosing the projects that fit our framework. The objective is to find profitable and sustainable ways forward, related to what we do today. When it comes to Biosorbe, it’s an advantage that we’re small. We’re fast-paced and can say yes to ideas if we have the resources,” says Nils.

Their close cooperation with Sting Bioeconomy means that they are introduced to relevant startups, but also that the Incubator serves as a speaking partner.

“It’s hard for us to invest lots of resources in research, and we’re too small to spend time searching new innovations that could suit us. Therefore, it’s great that Sting Bioeconomy can assist us with matchmaking,” says Nils.

Nils Hauri

How do you feel that the forest industry has changed over the past ten years?

“Instead of being an old-fashioned sector from times gone by, we now see ourselves as the industry of the future. Today, we’re part of the solution to the consumption and climate problems of the planet. The renewable raw material of the forest is often the solution to the issues of fuel and plastics. Biofuels and climate-smart solutions are what many people hope for today, and the world has faith that we’ll deliver the solution to the environmental problems.”

Lennart Eberleh is the President of the Rottneros group. He finds it important that there is now an incubator focusing on forest-related innovations in the region.

“It’s essential that we make the best possible use of the huge supply of forest material we have here in Värmland, so that it contributes to a better world. If we are in an environment where new ideas are hatched, we benefit from it in the form of new products, cooperation projects and expertise. It’s also important to channel expertise from the university to the business community, and to get people to discover Värmland.”

From your perspective, which field do you see as the most interesting to invest in for the future?

“We’re going to invest in development facilities, more pulp production and reduced carbon footprint. We will also develop Rottneros Packaging.”

Lennart Eberleh