The Lunawood mill in Iisalmi, Finland, creates sustainable composite material from wood and recycled plastic. As a result of long-term product development, a reuse has been found for industrial side streams: Lunawood Thermowood Composite TWPC contains 65% Lunawood Thermowood fibre and 20% Fortum Circo® recycled plastic.
Lunawood manufactures sustainable material for landscaping in Iisalmi, Finland
Established more than 20 years ago, Lunawood is the world’s largest company manufacturing thermally modified, Thermowood® products from Nordic pine and spruce. The company has mills in Iisalmi and Kaskinen, and it delivers Lunawood Thermowood products to more than 60 countries. At its Iisalmi mill in 2010, the company developed the world’s first Thermowood composite material, which is still unique. Demand for the product continues to increase.
Lunawood’s long history in the production of Thermowood has led to the need for the efficient use of side streams: pine and spruce sawdust. Sawdust is ideal for composites produced by compression, but plastic is needed as a reinforcement.
“We tried combining recycled plastic with Thermowood sawdust for the first time in 2010, but the quality of recycled plastic wasn’t sufficient for our needs back then,” says Jari Pasanen, Mill Manager at Lunawood.
“From the outset, the goal has been to replace virgin plastic with a cost-effective but sustainable solution,” Pasanen explains.
In 2017, Lunawood was one of the first companies invited to test Fortum Circo® recycled plastic, which impressed the entire production department with its consistent quality.
“Comparing different composite products is difficult because of the various standards and side stream raw materials used, but we can be proud of what we have created in Iisalmi: our product is 85% recycled and 100% Finnish,” says Johanna Veikkolainen, Marketing Manager at Lunawood.
A material with more than 85% recycled content
Lunawood Thermowood Composite contains twice the amount of wood as an equally sized piece of Thermowood. The material contains 65% Thermowood fibre and 20% recycled polypropylene plastic. The rest consists of binding and colouring agents. The recycled plastic comes from consumer plastic packaging, which Fortum uses to manufacture Fortum Circo® recycled plastic of a consistently high quality at its plastics refinery in Riihimäki.
Responsibility and sustainable development are Lunawood’s key focuses, and operations around these focuses are being developed continuously. Recycled raw materials are a key part of the sustainability story of the Thermowood Composite product, which is why they are significant.
“Most of the carbon footprint of the product comes from its raw materials. The climate impact of Fortum Circo is 50% smaller than that of virgin plastic materials,” says Anniina Rasmus, Brand Sales Manager at Fortum.
“The growing demand for Lunawood Thermowood, and Thermowood Composites in particular, is driven by consumers’ desire to make responsible choices and find landscaping products that are increasingly sustainable throughout their life cycles,” says Maija Masalin, Vice President, Marketing and Product Management at Lunawood.
“When you use a Lunawood Thermowood Composite, you know where the material came from and where the product was manufactured. This is the practical aspect we want to share.”
The strengths of a Thermowood composite include high quality and durability. Lunawood Thermowood Composite can be manufactured to size, and it keeps its dimensions thanks to Thermowood fibre.
“Unlike similar composite materials, it does not warp, shrink, expand or crack. The Thermowood sawdust gives the product its dimensional stability. The product is also non-toxic and has the scent of Thermowood,” says Pasanen.
Current applications of Lunawood Thermowood Composite include private and public sites, from jetties to terraces.
“In fact, all applications are suitable, because the material is durable and stylish. Interesting applications in Finland include the terrace of the Teerenranta Restaurant in Lahti harbour, the Radisson Blue Marina Palace hotel by the Aura River in Turku, and the lakeside terrace of Hotel Gustavelund in Tuusula. The terrace area is made from Luna TWPC 42x200 “BigBoy” composite planks because it must withstand weight and wear. Once a year at an event organised by the hotel, fancy sports cars are driven onto the terrace for display, so we can say with certainty that our terrace material meets even the highest requirements of our customers,” says Masalin.
A Thermowood Composite gives wood a long life, and plastic strengthens the union. Fortum Circo is a raw material with a consistently high quality, all the way to the end-product.
Natural luxury through cooperation
The cooperation between Lunawood and Fortum is unique. Two Finnish operators have together found an interesting and sustainable solution that is a prime example of the circular economy and a fully Finnish export product.
“It’s important for us that Fortum Circo is a material of a consistently high quality, as well as being easy to use, so high-quality end products can be developed for consumers who appreciate quality,” says Pasanen.
Demand for Thermowood composites as a long-term solution is growing globally.
“A composite terrace is long-lasting and practically maintenance-free: washing and brushing are enough. The sun turns the Lunawood Thermowood fibre grey and also maintains the surface of the composite,” Veikkolainen explains.
Lunawood is actively seeking new possibilities, because a Thermowood Composite is a versatile material for a diverse range of products. Landscaping is just one application.
“Stable, reliable, long-term partnerships are important for us, and having similar values is particularly important,” says Masalin.
“Our cooperation with Lunawood has been effective, as well as being a good example of how forests and recycled plastic can be combined in a wonderfully ecological way,” says Seppo Kuusela, Product Sales Manager at Fortum.
In Lunawood Thermowood Composite, plastic is used to continue the story of wood, making it even more sustainable. A sustainable natural luxury product is created in the process.
Oy Lunawood Ltd is an innovative pioneer in the thermal modification of wood and has grown to be the global Thermowood® market leader. The company’s status is based on the high-quality products, reliable customer service and professional employees. Lunawood is a target-oriented growth company which employs 125 professionals in Finland at production plants in Iisalmi, Kaskinen and Joensuu as well as the Lahti head office and main export markets. The company’s annual production capacity is 150,000 m3 and majority of the company’s production is exported. In 2020 Lunawood’s turnover was EUR 56 million.