Growing consumption and demand for more sustainable packaging is boosting the need for new innovations. To develop solutions for packaging today and into the future, Metsä Board, part of Metsä Group, has started up operations in its new Excellence Centre at the unique bioeconomy site in Äänekoski, Finland.
The centre, with its cutting-edge technology for R&D, packaging design and paperboard and packaging performance, aims to accelerate material and packaging innovation and provide a collaboration platform for customers and technology partners globally.
“As the amount of packaging continues to grow, new, sustainable solutions are needed to replace fossil-based materials and ensure circularity. The Excellence Centre concept enables paperboard and packaging solutions that look at the entire value chain, and not just at its separate parts. With the material knowhow, competence and tools now available, we can optimise performance throughout the packaging lifecycle,” says Mika Joukio, CEO of Metsä Board.
The Excellence Centre, which covers a total of 1,500 square meters, includes R&D facilities, a packaging design studio, a customer feedback centre and a state-of-the art laboratory providing more than 100 different measurement methods and analytics. The centre also features a virtual store and a computer-aided engineering (CAE) tool to allow sophisticated simulation and analysis of packaging performance.
Metsä Board’s Excellence Centre brings together Metsä Board’s own competencies and deep expertise in fibre-based solutions with that of various experts and partners, such as material suppliers, technology providers, start-up companies, universities and research companies. Virtual collaboration workshops have also been developed to enable joint development and co-creation if physical meetings are not possible.
“Renewable and recyclable fresh fibre paperboard can be utilised for packaging in many ways. Fibre-based packaging has a lot to offer, and together with our partners and the new Excellence Centre, we are able to explore the possibilities even more comprehensively. I am excited about the opportunities this will bring for today and the future,” says Metsä Board’s CEO Mika Joukio.
Äänekoski’s world-unique bioeconomy ecosystem includes a next-generation bioproduct mill, a paperboard mill, plywood mill, the Pro Nemus visitor centre, and a textile fibre demo plant.