Canadian Packaging

Paper to plastic?

Researchers look to develop ways to turn paper waste into usable plastic.

February 28, 2017   by Canadian Packaging staff

Okay… it’s not as simple as taking a crumpled wad of paper and adding a chemical and turning it into plastic, but the 75-year-old VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. is seeking ways to develop the multiple types of sludge and fly ash airborne particles of ash) generated by the paper and paperboard industry could be turned into plastic.

During the general manufacture of paper and paperboard, waste elements are created, some of which are being  used now instead of natural aggregates as a raw material in concrete or asphalt, or other construction materials.

But, large amounts of paper and paperboard side streams still end up in landfills and incineration.

Finding alternative uses for the waste products could be used to lower composite manufacturing costs, reduce the environmental impacts of production, and lower the total amount of waste.
The VTT is looking at ways to do all that while also reducing the production of oil-based plastics.


The VTT researchers have found that these waste side streams such as the paper sludge can replace up to 50 percent of oil-based polypropylene (PP) plastic, as a raw material in plastic composites made using injection molding and extrusion.

Of course, the amount of side stream material used will have an effect on a plastic products properties, such as strength, stiffness, heat resistance, appearance and the texture of the surface.
Testing the viability of using side stream material, Plastec Finland Oy and Wiitta Oy produced floor tiles and storage containers, of which side-streams accounted for 30 percent (see image above). New applications are continually being sought – in the future, they may include pallets and crates, and who knows, plastic packaging.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. is the leading research and technology company in the Nordic countries, serving both private and public sectors. Company information available at

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