Paptic has now launched its first product made of the new material, with Seppälä introducing the world's first Paptic-bags. In Europe alone, each person uses an average of 180 plastic bags per year. In Finland, consumption of bags is fairly moderate, at around 55–60 bags per person.
Many countries have bans and restrictions on plastic bags in the pipeline, a development which will be accelerated by the recent EU Directive. Finland, too, must move faster – according to the Directive, consumption must fall to 40 plastic bags per person by 2025.
However, people need to carry their shopping home one way or another and Paptic's wood-based bag meets this need. The first Paptic bags were tested in the summer of 2016 by Finnish fashion retailer Seppälä, which began collaborating with Paptic before the company was even founded.
"Cooperation with Seppälä has been highly rewarding, as the end user has been involved in product development. Too many good ideas and technologies are never put together with the right application," says Tuomas Mustonen, CEO of Paptic.
Outsourcing of production in future
Paptic was founded as a VTT spinoff in the spring of 2015. Paptic has collaborated with a number of SMEs in addition to VTT. The company has received funding for product development and the planning of international growth. In the first financing round, the company raised EUR 1.1 million in investments.
"Tekes' decision to approve the project expedited other investment decisions, giving investors confidence that we had sufficient resources to continue product development. Tekes funding has enabled us to form new customer contacts and agree on test runs with international companies.
We aim to scale the product next year, which means that we need new investments. It has been great to see how well the different actors, Tekes, Finpro and Finnvera, played together in this," Mustonen says.
The next generation of paper
Paptic has plastic-like properties, including stretchability and sealability, and
it does not tear like paper. In addition, while it withstands splashes, it biodegrades completely in water. 80 per cent of the raw materials used in Paptic are renewable, the main one being Finnish pulp. However, the material is more durable than, say, biodegradable plastic.
"We could have produced a completely water-resistant material, but we wanted it to be suitable for recycling as a type of cardboard. We want our products to be re-used as many times as possible," says Mustonen.
Paptic estimates that producing Paptic-bags on a commercial scale would be as energy efficient as the manufacture of plastic bags. For the time being, the company is manufacturing the material itself in its pilot factory in Espoo, which will produce material for around one million bags this year. Paptic is seeking partners to enable the upscaling of production. The company is confident that the material will be used not only in bags but also in a wider range of applications, such as packaging and shipping envelopes.
tel. +358 50 5987 516
tuomas.mustonen (at) paptic.fi
Text: Katariina Ahonen, Kaiku Helsinki
Caption: 80 per cent of the raw materials used in a Paptic bag are renewable.