New Swedish partnership aims to maximise material efficiency in manufacturing industries
We speak to founder Anders Breitholtz about his biogenic, carbon-negative material innovation PaperShell, poised to ”revolutionise sustainability and innovation.”
1 Jul 2024

Many so-called bio-based materials have fossil-based binders often exceeding 50%. The Swedish innovation PaperShell, however, is 100% bio-based, which makes founder Anders Breitholtz call it groundbreaking.

— It’s poised to revolutionise sustainability and innovation, he states. It’s pressable into 3D shapes like metal, is stronger than all woods and plastics, and rivals fibre composites and sheet metal. It’s also 100% biogenic, load-bearing, and both moisture and heat-resistant, made by press-hardening layers of paper with natural resin from hemicellulose. At the end of its lifecycle, it can be recycled as wood or converted into biochar, enriching the soil, and sequestering carbon, making it a cornerstone of a carbon-negative, regenerative, and circular bio-economy. 

Carbon-negative, you said. Tell us more!

— Since our input materials are based on natural raw materials like wood and plants, — 100% biogenic — meaning that every single carbon atom comes from the atmosphere, we become carbon negative if we ensure super-efficient production. Additionally, we make sure that our production waste is turned into biochar, storing the atmospheric carbon in the ground for hundreds of years. It’s the basis for a circular bioeconomy: collaborating along value chains, upcycling biologically, and learning from nature.

Anders Breitholtz.

What’s your view on the bio-based materials market?

— Novell materials exist in reports, grams, or kg. There are very few bio-based novel materials that exist on scale and with the technical and aesthetic properties that PaperShell composites attributes. With large-scale automated factories now operational, we’re ready to set new standards for eco-friendly products, reducing greenhouse gases by 90-99% and offering unmatched sustainability, performance, and aesthetics.

— At the same time, it allows for the creation of advanced components suitable for extensive series production. Furthermore, it’s a perfect material for transitioning away from plastics, veneer, glass fibre, and aluminium. Very few materials have all these overall benefits.

— We are looking forward to tougher legislation for greenwashing on hand and ramp up of more true circular 100% bio-based materials on the other. 

Tell us about your first commercial plant.

— We started off with a pilot plant in Tibro, Sweden with a fully automated S-Line (Small Line), and since March this year, our new factory is operational. The heart of the production is an M-Line and an L-Line, both of which are fully automated with high yield and capable of producing components with an area of up to 1 x 2 meters.

PaperShell’s first factory in Tibro, Sweden.

PaperShell has already teamed up with several brands in various segments, such as Pricer, which develops and provides electronic shelf labelling, and Italian design company Arper. 

— They launched the iconic Catifa Carta 53 as Catifa Carta with a shell made entirely from PaperShell during Salone del Mobile in April, Breitholtz explains. Thereafter, it’s been on tour in London, Rotterdam, Oslo, New York, Chicago, and Copenhagen, which has been a great success, including workshops on what can be done with the biochar and the mushrooms we grow.

PaperShell for Arper (also in the top picture). Photography: Salva Lopez

In mobility, PaperShell has already teamed up with Polestar and Vidde for ongoing collaborations. The latest partnership is with Stilfold.

— They have a process for folding steel to create load-bearing 3D structures derived from ancient Japanese paper technology. We have a paper technology where we use traditional metal forming technologies. Quite natural to merge! Breitholtz says.

Together, the two aim to maximise material efficiency in several manufacturing industries. This can enable the production of everything from sustainable façade panels to design objects for both indoor and outdoor use, as well as new lightweight structures in automotive, mobility, and infrastructure sectors.

— This partnership gives us an opportunity to further develop our technology and production capacity. By integrating PaperShell’s groundbreaking composite materials into our software, we can create products that are not only sustainable and strong but also aesthetically pleasing, says Jonas Nyvang, co-founder and CEO of Stilfold.

Stilfold and Papershell.

Lastly, Anders Breitholtz asks the obvious question: Why use materials that are based on carbon atoms that have been stored by nature in the ground for literally millions of years, only to use them for perhaps ten years at best?

— The more we learn from nature and science, the more mesmerising and clear things become. It feels quite natural and straightforward. Nature has 3.8 billion years of iterative, creative, beautiful, advanced, competitive, 100% biogenic, super-tough market economy. Everything is locally sourced and circular. It is better to team up with nature than to destroy that knowledge.