Towards bio-based binders, paints, and packaging materials - Teknos' know-how is utilized in an extensive research project

Bio-based products are urgently needed also in the coating industry to replace fossil-based raw materials and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For this purpose, a project called SUSBINCO (Sustainable binders and coatings) was launched in Finland in fall 2021, where numerous different actors are searching for sustainable and safe alternatives to current fossil-based binders and coatings. The goal is to develop products that are 80–100 % biobased.

In the coatings industry, the problems of fully bio-based products are often related to price, the availability of raw materials, and the lack of existing supply chains. The technical properties of the products pose further challenges, as coatings must not only protect the object, but also to be safe to use. Particularly challenging are applications meant for food packaging, such as cardboard cups or fast-food trays, where product and user safety are strongly regulated.

The SUSBINCO project, which Teknos is a part of, aims to develop binders and coatings that are 80–100 % biobased. The products are intended to be used in several different applications, such as fibre-based packaging, packaging materials, wood products, paints, adhesives, sealants, and abrasives. All in all, this is estimated to be a market worth over 1,000 billion euros. At the same time, the purpose of the project is to make Finland a leading country in terms of bio-based packaging and to reduce dependence on, for example, Asian raw material markets.

The target for biobased coatings is doable

The research coordinated by Clic Innovation, has now progressed to halfway. The actors have been looking into the possibilities to utilize side streams and waste from the Finnish wood industry, such as bark and biomass, as substitutes for fossil raw materials. The project is scheduled to end at the end of 2023, followed by product launch and exporting. Teknos’ brings its strong knowledge of raw materials’ technical requirements to the table.

Pasi Virtanen, Group R&D Manager for innovations at Teknos, believes that the general goal of the project can be achieved within the project schedule.

"I would say that we are already quite close of having the toolbox built for biobased coatings and binders. On the other hand, when we talk about packaging solutions, and especially if we mean food contact coatings, it will take more time, even years, just because of product safety," Virtanen says.

Research results are utilized as versatile as possible

In SUSBINCO, Teknos is part of the top-level project, but at the same time, also researches independently how bio-based solutions can be utilized in the company's own products. The goal is to bring bio-based binders and coatings not only to packaging, but also to consumer and professional paint products, interior and exterior paints, powder paints and UV-curable products, as an example.

"In an ideal situation, we would use research results and new binders and coatings in line with sustainable development for all solutions for which the technical properties are sufficient," Virtanen emphasizes. This is also in line with Teknos' sustainability goals, where the company actively strives to develop better solutions for the environment and people.

With the project, Teknos has gained more tools to develop biobased products. At the same time, participation has spawned completely new cooperation opportunities. Teknos recently joined the wider Expand Fibre ecosystem, which aims to accelerate the development of sustainable bioproducts focused on cellulose fibre, hemicellulose, and lignin. SUSBINCO, as a project, is included into Expand Fibre ecosystem.

"We are happy to be part of this network. Participation in this type of ecosystem strengthens Teknos’ goal to be the most innovative company in the coating industry", Virtanen says.

The SUSBINCO project has received 10.1 million in funding from Business Finland. The consortium consists of eleven industrial companies and seven research institutes and universities.

Pasi Virtanen 
Group R&D Manager, Innovations 
+358 468503546