Cross-sector collaboration launches trial on Holmen's site in Workington

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A major milestone has been reached in a global innovation project aimed at investigating the feasibility of recycling biogenic CO2 emissions and using it in the manufacturing of household products.

17 organisations, including global manufacturing giants, universities, and innovation experts, are working together in the unprecedented collaboration Flue2chem to examine the potential for using biogenic carbon emissions as an alternative source of carbon in the manufacture of household products.

The findings from the project will inform the industry and the Government about the feasibility of using non-virgin fossil fuel sources for household and consumer products. The project could, if successful, reduce the need for oil and gas extraction in the future to make detergent and other manufactured goods. 

In the project's first stage, the partners will examine the transformation of biogenic carbon, captured from the flue gas emissions at Holmen’s mill in Workington, into surfactants – the active ingredient in household detergents. After this first stage trial, the carbon capture equipment will be passed to a second site for continued investigation.

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Yuanting Qiao and Professor Peter Styring from the University of Sheffield, George Dowson from CCU International, Ian Black and Gary Norman from Holmen’s mill in Workington standing next to the Flue2Chem equipment, with the CHP plant flue stack in the background.

Ulf Lofgren, the Managing Director of Holmen’s mill in Workington, is delighted with the progress so far, “We are extremely proud to be a part of this ground-breaking project and working as part of a collaboration such as this, with innovative industrial and scientific partners”. 

Holmen’s mill in Workington is an integrated pulp and paperboard mill, home to the premium folding boxboard Incada. It operates a biomass-fuelled combined heat and power plant to generate electricity and steam for paperboard production with a surplus of power exported to the national grid.

Earlier this year, the mill took delivery of the carbon capture equipment, which has been developed by the University of Sheffield and CCU International. The plant was commissioned in March and began to capture biogenic carbon for further analysis. 

Ian Black has been heavily involved with this vital project stage on behalf of Holmen. He reflected on the project and the fit with the company's values, saying, “Sustainability has been a driver in our decision-making for many years. Our investment in 2013 in Biomass CHP was a game changer for us, eliminating our reliance on fossil fuel for our mill’s energy needs overnight. Since then, we have invested in our site energy efficiencies, and we are now delighted to be part of this pioneering project to harvest the biogenic carbon emissions from our operations for subsequent use”. 

When asked what this collaboration means for Holmen, Ian says, “The work of situating the capture equipment on site and getting it electrically and mechanically installed and ready for start-up has been a milestone for the project. The immediate success will be providing captured carbon dioxide at the required purity for the next stage. The planned operational period on our site will be an excellent opportunity to study and learn.”


  1. Flue2Chem is a two-year demonstration project that seeks to redesign and validate a UK value chain to convert valuable carbon emissions into sustainable materials for consumer products.
  2. Manufacturing products from petrochemicals use approximately 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide globally each year.
  3. The project partners include global home and personal care product manufacturers and their intermediate ingredients, paper manufacturers, UK universities and innovation specialists.
  4. The Flue2Chem partnership began in December 2022 and is expected to conclude its findings by early 2025. The project will cost approximately £5 million, with £2.7 million support from Innovate UK.

Holmen produces premium paperboard and innovative paper products suitable for multiple packaging solutions and graphical applications. Conscious customers appreciate our products due to their product properties and low climate impact. We use fresh fibres from sustainably managed forests and have four production facilities in Sweden and the UK. 

Our paperboards are developed for purposeful packaging solutions and graphical applications in sectors including cosmetics, electronics, pharmaceuticals and food.