Finnish forest industry products company the Metsä Group is to begin producing sustainable softwood pulp-based textile fibres through the establishment of a new innovation arm.

Metsä Spring Ltd will work with partner organisations to identify and develop new business opportunities in sustainable forest-based bioeconomy and circular economy.

The first concept to be included in its portfolio is a new textile fibre production method developed by Metsä Fibre based on "direct dissolution using novel compounds for the pulp dissolution stage." A greenfield demo plant is now being planned, with a capacity of around 500 tonnes of staple fibre per year.

The idea is that the demo plant will be integrated into Metsä Group's bioproduct mill in Äänekoski, Finland. In contrast to the methods currently used , the new process relies on wet paper-grade pulp as the raw material.

"It is important to develop new bioproducts that expand the current product portfolio of the forest industry," says CEO Niklas von Weymarn. "Textile fibre is a very potential product and a natural first project for Metsä Spring. The company wants to be an active and respected player in developing new business concepts for various stages of the forest-based value chains."