The industrial company Borregaard offers hundreds of products based on timber from Norwegian and Swedish forests. As much as 95 percent of the biorefinery’s sales are based on exports.
Using timber as a raw material, the company produces biochemicals that can replace oil-based alternatives in everything from agriculture, fisheries, foodstuffs and pharmaceuticals, to construction, cosmetics, fuel and batteries. As a result, Borregaard’s products meet long-term global challenges related to population growth, access to resources and environmental and climate impacts. The products and services are sold to over a hundred countries worldwide.
2020 Export Award
Borregaard won the 2020 Export Award in competition with 101 other nominated companies.
“Borregaard is a brilliant example of a business that has managed to combine innovation, growth and sustainability. This is a green industrial adventure Norway can be proud of”, said Minister of Trade and Industry Iselin Nybø, who presented the award on behalf of Export Credit Norway, GIEK and Innovation Norway.
Among other things, it was stated that the company has been able to rapidly adapt, and has gone from being a fairly traditional Norwegian industrial business that developed cellulose and paper, to becoming a modern industrial group with a wide range of products and customers all over the world. The jury also emphasised that Borregaard shows good ecological resource management providing a robustness that can withstand fluctuations in individual markets.
NOK 62 million from Innovation Norway
Over the past eight years, Borregaard has received both financial support and various types of advisory services from Innovation Norway, the Research Council of Norway and Enova. In total, the company has received more than NOK 62 million from Innovation Norway.
“Borregaard is investing heavily in developing new products based on timber that is a renewable resource. In addition to their focus on sustainability, they have a high capacity for innovation and clear international ambitions. The company is involved in great value creation both in and for Norway”, says Hans Marius Brandstorp, Finance Adviser at Innovation Norway Oslo Viken.
“The support from Innovation Norway and the Research Council of Norway has been decisive for us in terms of risk mitigation, especially within research and development. In our industry, one must be able to deliver full-scale test production, and the projects must be tangible and feasible”, says Thomas Kristiansen, Innovation Manager for special cellulose at Borregaard.
Seeing that the industrial company sells solutions to customers and not just physical products, it is important to have local expertise in the markets in which the company establishes itself. Borregaard has 1100 employees working at factories and sales offices in a total of 16 countries. More than 10 percent of the employees work in sections that deal directly with customers
Sustainability and specialisation
The raw material and production process are considered to be very green and sustainable, and the company is a world leader when it comes to climate certification. Among the 1 million solid cubic metres of timber that pass through the biorefinery in Sarpsborg each year, a large proportion is residual wood chips and sawdust from the sawmills. In this way, the logs are fully utilised, in addition to the solutions replacing products that require fossil-based and non-renewable alternatives such as crude oil, mineral oil, petroleum and natural gas.
Since the 1990s, Borregaard has invested in specialised cellulose products. Over the past 30 years, the biorefinery has developed several high purity products. The latest process technology is cold alkaline extraction, which removes a significant proportion of impurities from the wood. Only a few of the world’s cellulose producers use the technology.
As a replacement for ready-made solutions based on cold alkaline extraction, the industrial company has developed their own process called Ice Bear technology. The advantage of this technology is that it requires less investment than the conventional method. In addition, Ice Bear technology provides the biorefinery with better flexibility to produce various cellulose qualities with higher purity in order to meet market needs.
“This product range goes to areas of utilisation such as LCD screens for mobile phones, spectacle frames, filter applications and car tire reinforcement. Another area of utilisation is biocomposites that are a sustainable alternative to oil-based products”, says Ali Moosavifar, technical service manager for special cellulose at Borregaard.
Borregaard’s development is market driven. Through a good understanding of the customers’ needs and knowledge about the products’ areas of utilisation, the company is involved in great value creation. In selected segments, there are increasing demands regarding purity, stability and sustainable raw materials. Development projects such as ICE Bear have been essential for entering into new, highly specialised areas of application.
The governing factors for Borregaard are:
- Needs in the market for more sustainable and plant-based products
- Stricter rules and the phasing out of fossil-based plastics driven by consumer trends
- High quality requirements within the food and pharmaceutical industries
- Demanding applications where traces of impurities can be harmful and undesirable regarding the final product, such as LCD screens