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Nordic forestry companies see future in birch, pine textiles

Reuters Stockholm | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on March 13, 2016

nordic   -  REUTERS

Sector developing new clean production methods as fashion industry seeks alternatives to cotton

Nordic pulp makers are developing clean ways to turn birch and pine trees into clothes or sofa covers to help revive their industry and meet demand from fashion and furniture firms for alternative textiles to cotton.

There has been no Nordic production of viscose, the main textile fibre from timber, since the last manufacturer stopped nearly a decade ago, partly on environmental grounds.

But a 2011 spike in cotton prices contributed to increased global demand for viscose and lyocell, the other major textile fibre from wood pulp. Production is dominated by Austria’s Lenzing, India’s Aditya Birla and South Africa’s Sateri.

Three Nordic mills export dissolving pulp, the product that can be turned into textile fibre. The industry would like to see textile fibre factories set up at home that will meet environmental rules and appeal to local firms such as IKEA and Hennes & Mauritz which want to project a green image. “We have the forest here in the Nordics, we have our pulp mills. It would be better for us if more dissolving pulp was needed in our region,” said Markus Mannstrom, Chief Technical Officer of Finland’s Stora Enso.

Demand fall

The forestry industry, which accounts for a fifth of Finland’s and a tenth of Sweden’s exports, has been hit by lower newsprint demand and foreign competition.

But global output of pulp for textiles is expected to grow by 30 per cent by 2020 from 4.4 million tonnes in 2015, according to Oliver Lansdell at forest products industry consultancy Hawkins Wright.

Anticipating the rise in demand, in 2011, Sodra, the Swedish association of 50,000 small forest owners, converted paper pulp machines so they could make textile pulp. “We expect cotton output to peak while textile demand will keep growing,” said Dag Benestad, head of dissolving pulp production at Sodra.











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Published on March 13, 2016
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