Plastic 100 years in Sweden - the history of plastic

Plastic in Sweden celebrates 100 years! In correlation we are publishing a new article series, to put the spotlight on the history of plastic, current challenges and future visions.

The first article in the series, is focusing on the history of plastic at Perstorp – digging into exciting developments and challenges throughout the past 100 years.


The first Swedish plastic called Isolit is invented by the young Indian scientist Jnanendra Das Gupta, at Perstorp. The plastic material is first used for electrical switch handles but within a few years the electrical industries in Sweden become large consumers of Isolit.

1923Logotype Isolit Perstorp

By 1923, Perstorp has developed phenolic resins. First, it is used in industrial laminates for the electrical and radio industries, later in decorative laminates for tough tabletops and other demanding surfaces. However, it is only possible to produce laminates in dark colors, due to the black color of the phenolic resin.


Despite financial difficulties, Perstorp manages to continue to develop new plastic products. One of these are beech parquet floors, which later becomes Sweden's biggest parquet factory.

1945Isolit handle Perstorp

Perstorp is Scandinavia’s biggest plastic industry, with more than 10.000 different plastic items, with everything from thimbles and billiard balls to miner’s helmets, toilet seats and telephone cases.


In the early 1950’s, new thermoplastics makes it possible to launch modern, injection-molded,  colorful household items.
Later in the 50’s, the new melamine plastic makes it possible to create laminate in unlimited colors and patterns. Because of the great functionality and diversity, the new decorative laminate becomes a huge success and a common element in Swedish households.


Perstorp is facing financial difficulties in the late 70’s and forms a committee to generate new ideas. In the committee the laminate floor called Pergo is invented, and within a few years it becomes a global success.

What you might not know, is that the Pergo name is a conjunction between Perstorp and the Swedish word for floor “golv”, Per-go. Today, Pergo is a global independent listed company, supplying beautiful, innovative and long lasting laminate floors.

1990’scolor test

The 90’s are dominated by a refocus on the core business. All non-chemical and materials  technology operations are divested, and Perstorp formulates its goal of becoming a world leader in specialty chemicals. Hence, the consumer plastics business is divested.


Today at Perstorp, we still have a strong focus on plastic materials and we are constantly innovating to produce safer, more sustainable and high performing plastics. A few examples are Akestra™, a heat resistant plastic that is ideal for catering and food packaging with its safe crystal  clear looks to give brand appeal, and Charmor™, which provides a superior carbon source for intumescent fire resistant plastics.

To celebrate the 100-year anniversary of Swedish plastic, Plastens Hus is arranging a seminar together with Perstorp Group and the Swedish industry organization IKEM. The seminar will take place today in Perstorp, Sweden. See the full program here (in Swedish) >>

Read more about the history of plastic and much more at Plastens Hus >>

Images used in the article belongs to Plastens Hus.

Cecilia Svensson

EVP Communications & Sustainable Transformation

+46 40 635 88 30

Contact me

Cecilia Svensson

EVP Communications & Sustainable Transformation

+46 40 635 88 30

Contact me