Area analysis of paper-based textiles – BioInnovation

The area analysis is finished (the project ran between January and June 2023). 

Read the report (in Swedish)

That the demand for textile fibres in the world is increasing, is well known. In 2020, approximately 109 million tonnes of textile fibres were produced. Of these, just over 62% were synthetic fibres, that is fossil-based, and almost 30% were plant-based fibres, with cotton being by far the dominant fibre. Regenerated cellulose (MMCF), mainly from forest raw materials, accounted for about 6%, with viscose accounting for just under 5%. 

As more people globally become better off and consumption increases as a result, the need for textile fibres is likely to increase in the future. The challenge for the textile industry is to meet these increased demands and at the same time to contribute significantly to stated environmental goals. To achieve this, safe production, non-toxic processes, efficient use of resources and an increased degree of circularity are essential. 

In 2015, the government declared that Sweden would become one of the world’s first fossil-free welfare countries with the goal of being fossil-independent by 2045, which means that the dominance of fossil-based synthetic fibres must be broken. A wide range of different textile fibres as well as cross-sectoral collaboration will be crucial for how well we succeed in the transition to a fossil-independent, resource-efficient society. 

Currently, the Swedish forest industry is a significant supplier of textile pulp for spinning fibres such as viscose and lyocell, but the infrastructure for spinning fibres in Sweden is lacking. A greater focus on local value chains for textile manufacturing would be needed in order to meet future demands for transparency, circularity and sustainability. This is partly so that practically oriented material knowledge does not disappear, and partly because it is in society’s interest to achieve a certain level of resilience in the textile sector in the event of national crises, such as during pandemics and times of unrest. 

By twisting paper into yarn, the existing infrastructure of the Swedish paper and textile industry can be utilised. This should make it possible to create a local textile value chain with relatively low investment costs. For example, in Japan, paper yarn with good properties is produced at an industrial level by using paper with Abaca (manilla hemp). 

BioInnovation has identified the transition of the textile industry from fossil fuel use to increased use of bio-based materials in a resource-efficient way, as an area where there is a significant need for increasing knowledge and basic understanding in order to support the phasing in of sustainable bio-based raw materials, materials, products and associated processes. In this area analysis, BioInnovation aimed to increase knowledge of the current situation and future potential of paper-based textiles. 


The purpose of the area analysis was to increase knowledge of paper-based textiles by identifying research and development needs, in order to develop the area and create a collection of relevant competences and collaborations in the future. 


The following questions were to be answered within the framework of the assignment: 

  • What activities and process technology unit operations need to be in place with the industrial stakeholders? 
  • Which industrial stakeholders account for which parts of the value chain? 
  • What are the technological gaps for the production of yarn and textile products? 
  • Where is the research front today, and what are the TRL levels of technologies as yet not industrialised? 
  • What is the patent situation? 
  • What is the property profile of any potential material, with and without reinforcing fibres? 
  • Which applications are feasible, with a given property profile? 
  • What does the market look like, that is, customer needs and the state of competition? 


  • Current situation screening – aimed at mapping the key stakeholders for future paper textile value chains, both in academia and in industry.  
      • The state of current knowledge collected from patents, completed projects, scientific publications, academic literature and industry publications. 
      • Production of network images visualising the importance of and the connections between the actors, in order to identify key actors for in-depth discussions. 
  • Discussions with stakeholders – aimed at identifying current competencies and resources within the industry, institutions and academia: what exists today and what is missing to achieve value chains for paper-based textiles. Aspects of manufacturing, properties and potential applications within their markets were mapped. The work consisted of five activities in the following order: 
      • Preparation of a questionnaire and discussion document based on the results of the above activities. 
      • Distribution of the questionnaire to stakeholders, nationally and in Europe. Compilation of results. 
      • Stakeholder dialogues with Swedish industry stakeholders, along the entire value chain: pulp and paper manufacturing – yarn spinning – textile manufacturing through weaving, knitting and nonwoven manufacturing – textile finishing – clothing manufacture – brand owners. 
      • A round table discussion with selected stakeholders from Swedish industry, academia and Swedish institutions, including preliminary and follow-up work. The industrial stakeholders will be found among textile manufacturers (weaving, knitting, nonwoven manufacturing), product manufacturers and product owners (clothing and furniture companies and companies for technical textile products). 
      • Compilation of the discussions in a report with a summarising swot analysis covering manufacturing, material and product characteristics, market, cost/price, competition, external factors and stakeholders. 

Report & closing seminar (links in Swedish, held on 21 June 2023) – aimed at summarising the work and presenting it through a report and a seminar focusing on the way forward. 

Stakeholder, budget and timeline 

The assignment was carried out by Chalmers Industriteknik. The project had a total budget of 400 000 SEK. 

Steering Committes

Carl-Gustaf Salomonsson – Nordic Paper
Cecilia Tall – RISE
Lena Marie Jensen – The Swedish School of Textiles & BioInnovation Team of Experts
Sverker Danielsson – Chairman, BioInnovation

Continued contacts on paper-based textiles:  

Lena-Marie Jensen
Member of the BioInnovations Team of Experts, project manager and coordinator for sustainability projects within the framework of Smart Textiles at Science Park Borås

Mats Johansson
Report author