A Mutual Challenge
Any business or organization taking sustainability seriously is working towards Agenda 2030 and the Paris Accord (COP 21). A circular economy has the potential to be instrumental to reach these sustainability goals.
These are the main SDGs we’re working towards at PaperShell.
Most greenhouse gas emissions come from material extraction, resource management, and design choices. This is where 80% of the environmental impact is determined and this is the starting point for PaperShell. PaperShell is working towards a bio-based circular economy.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation defines the circular economy as an industrial economy that is restorative or regenerative by value and design. In their famous butterfly diagram (see below) there is a bio cycle on the left and a technical cycle on the right. PaperShell aims to combine the two.
The Green Gold
At present, the forest industry and agro-waste streams are the only viable bio-based solutions to achieve scalable and sustainable materials. Both are available in large amounts and managed correctly they have minimum impact on the environment. A perfect alternative to the fossil-based linear economy. To achieve a bio-based circular economy using these two valuable resources, they must be treated with uppermost care and understanding.
In PaperShell we want to do everything in our power to help restore our natural forests and hinder biodiversity loss. We continuously strive to work with nature instead of against it. We therefore need to work along value chains and with the right partners and clients to continuously become better. This journey will never end – it has just begun.
We want to measure everything and to team up with the best. Initial LCA shows that we are on the right track. Compared to a functional unit of a bulk plastic such as Polypropylene our impact is 1/10th and 1/50th glass fiber reinforced plastics. However, we can be even better – we can trim more.
A key in the circular economy, is to have material efficiency for as long as possible, why functionality and aesthetics are of upmost importance. PaperShell is much stronger than wood and plastics, resembling more a fibre composite. It doesn’t burn even though it has no hazardous flame retardants. It has half the strength of aluminium but half the weight, which implies that you can replace a 1 mm aluminium sheet with 2 mm sheet of PaperShell. Common problems with natural materials is that they absorb water. PaperShell hardly absorbs any water and is similar to the plastic Nylon (PA10) which compared to wood is extremely low. The material withstands UV and temperature
cycling very well.
Most importantly PaperShell does not contain any fossil carbon. At the “End of Life” it releases carbon back into the atmosphere, but only the carbon that the tree or plant once sucked from the atmosphere. Thus, replacing any fossil based material with PaperShell will help reduce fossil CO2 emissions entering the atmosphere. We are aiming for net zero and carbon positive by closing the loop, working towards a full circular bio economy and bringing back biologicial nutrients back into nature. So, let’s keep this valuable bio-based carbon stored in beautiful and functional products for as long as we can.