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Montinutra has raised €2M in pre-funding led by Metsä Spring, a corporate venture unit of Metsä Group, with a syndicate of private investors.
Founded in 2018, Montinutra transforms forest industry sidestreams into sustainable, high-value and natural biochemicals that replace fossil alternatives in the chemical and cosmetics industries. With the funding, Montinutra will accelerate its internationalisation, advance the designing of the industrial demo production plant, and bring new products to market under its Boreal Bioproducts® brand. The company aims to reach €100M in annual revenue by 2035, with the demo plant up and running by 2026.
“Forest industry sidestreams – such as sawdust, bark, or plywood processing residues – are currently hugely undervalued as raw materials, and are often burned for heat and energy. Traditionally, the focus has also been on the utilisation of cellulose from wood, but the possibility of utilising the rest of the wood, namely hemicellulose and lignin, which make up over 50% of wood content, has been limited. We enable the broader utilisation of hemicellulose and lignin extracts by developing biochemicals out of them. This is how we turn these previously underused sidestreams into mainstream materials and increase the value of the raw material in multiples,” says Jaakko Pajunen, Managing Director of Montinutra.
In the near future, Montinutra will be newly branded as Boreal Bioproducts®, and its biochemicals can be used for new bio-based product applications such as industrial binders, barrier coatings, dispersants and personal care products, which have various applications in the chemical, coatings, cosmetics and material industries. The products are natural, vegan, non-GMO and biodegradable.
A mere fraction of the fossil CO2 footprint
The company’s production process is based on pressurised hot water extraction without the use of any chemicals and with energy and water recovered back to the process. This enables robust and cost-effective production of natural products with minimal environmental burden. The CO2 footprint of the Boreal Bioproducts is small compared to similar fossil-based chemicals. Typical chemicals, such as styrene-butadiene or acrylics used in binder applications, have a fossil CO2 footprint of up to 5600kg CO2e/t. With the respective footprint of Boreal Bioproducts below 150 kg CO2e/t, remarkable emission reductions can be achieved when introduced as raw materials to bio-based binders.(1)(2)(3)
The rapid and simple extraction technology is also easily scalable and it can be flexibly applied to different types of lignocellulosic, but also other feedstocks. However, forest industry sidestreams are not competing with the same land as the food cultivation, and they are readily available also outside the growth season and, hence, create a secure and stable supply of sustainable feedstock.
“Solutions that use natural resources responsibly and reduce carbon emissions are much needed, not just for reaching global emission reduction targets, but also for helping different industries in their transformations from fossil-based to bio-based materials. Montinutra helps their customers in this and aims to build a new industry in Finland that combines bio-economy, sidestreams, and added value,” says Katariina Kemppainen, SVP, Group R&D at Metsä Group.
A global market valued in billions shifting toward bio-based alternatives
The multi-functional Boreal Bioproducts ingredients can be used for products such as adhesives and personal care ingredients. For example, the global adhesive market is valued at around $60bn annually. Currently, many technical applications such as plywood, may use formaldehyde-based adhesives, and repeated exposure to them may cause chronic irritation. Boreal Bioproducts lignin and phenolic products such as SpruceGlue™ are being developed as natural replacements.
For the cosmetic industry, Boreal Bioproducts offer multiple cosmetic functionalities for film forming, natural colour, SPF-boosting, dispersant, and co-emulsifying uses, as well as active ingredients for skin care with anti-aging and anti-oxidant features in personal care products.
The company is currently in the midst of planning and pre-engineering its first-of-a-kind demo plant to upcycle forest industry sidestreams, envisioned to be commissioned in 2026. The planned location for the new plant is at the site of Metsä Group’s sawmill in Vilppula, Finland. In spring 2023, Montinutra announced its partnership with Ole Hyvä Luonnontuote in a new personal care product range that contains Boreal Bioproducts SpruceSugar™ as an ingredient, produced at the current pilot plant in Turku, Finland.