A few years ago we developed WPC as an environmentally friendly alternative to pure plastic. WPC is a bioplastic and is our contribution to environmental protection – not our only one, but the most important.
Wood plastic composite – more wood, less plastic
We believe that environmental protection begins at home, in our own company, and that’s why it is very important to us.
- We only process wood from sustainably managed forests.
- Our machines run on electricity.
- We ensure our production methods are environmentally friendly.
- We have reduced our waste and emissions to a minimum.
- We operate our own biological wastewater treatment plant.
We have been processing natural fibres in our mill for over a hundred years. Our experience of processing natural fibres has helped us to produce a marketable bioplastic: WPC, also called wood plastic composite. Our WPC granulate can compete with pure plastic in terms of price and quality. And that has been the actual challenge up to now: only a competitive bioplastic has a chance of replacing pure plastic products.
Companies and research bodies have been seeking an alternative to conventional plastics since the 1960s, because plastics give rise to countless environmental problems. Around 200 million tonnes of crude oil are needed each year to produce them. Greenhouse gases are released in production and disposal is fraught with difficulties: several million tonnes of plastic waste are floating in the Great Pacific garbage patch.
But plastics have become established in every aspect of life – in the home, at work, in the nursery, the school and of course also in our leisure time. Global production of plastic has risen from 1.5 million tonnes in 1950 to 265 million tonnes in 2010, and our daily life is scarcely imaginable without the many items, both small and large, that are manufactured from plastic.
Now virtually all conventional plastics can be manufactured from sustainable raw materials. In spite of this, bioplastics have a market share of just 1%. This is due primarily to the fact that bioplastics are more expensive and have poorer material properties for the most part. They cannot compete with plastics made from crude oil. It was important to us, therefore, to develop a bioplastic that can rival conventional plastics in terms of price and quality.
At the start of the development phase, which took a number of years, we had to overcome a host of problems: our machines went down, the wood fibres were burnt, the plastic clogged everything up. But we didn’t give up. There was never the big bang, the moment in which we made the breakthrough. It was a gradual development – our process improved and our WPC became better. And better. And better. And a few years ago we achieved our goal. Now we are one of the few companies worldwide to manufacture and market industrially processed WPC for injection moulding. Its material properties and price are comparable to those of plastic. And our success has proved us right.