Development of recyclable, biobased packaging for food products - BioActiveMaterials

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Tabular comparison of wrapping paper and pouches from bio-based multilayer packaging

Biobased food packaging with high recyclability

High requirements are put on food packaging. For example, foods that easily spoil must be kept fresh for as long as possible using active multilayer packaging systems. Simultaneously there is a growing demand for sustainable, recyclable multilayers – as required by the new German Packaging Act.

The BioActiveMaterials project is addressing the conflict between food shelf-life and sustainable packaging materials. The aim of the project is to develop biobased materials and coatings that have the same functionality as conventional, mineral oil based food packaging. The new packaging must have comparable oxygen, water vapor, and mineral oil barriers and antioxidative and antimicrobial properties to conventional packaging. In order to avoid competition with food production, this project is exclusively using waste materials from the food and agriculture industries.

Prolonged food shelf-life using biobased barrier coatings

In order to guarantee the microbiological safety of packaged foods, protein and wax coatings are currently used as water vapor and oxygen barriers. Natural antioxidants, antimicrobial substances, and biopolymers having an intrinsic antimicrobial effect also retard the spoiling process.

Mineral oil barriers made of proteins: Recycled paper in food packaging

Although paper is biobased and recyclable, its poor oxygen barrier usually makes it unsuitable as a primary packaging material for foods. Also, waste paper often contains residues of mineral oil based printing inks and these can migrate from the packaging into the food products. The BioActiveMaterials project is thus focused on developing a biobased protein coating for paper that is impermeable to oxygen and mineral oil. This will enable the modified paper to be used as a packaging material for foods and so compete with mineral oil based multilayer packaging.

Biobased multilayers offer diverse market opportunities for SMEs

The use of waste materials from the food and agriculture industries means that the streams of waste materials are reduced and hence so too are costs and CO2 emissions.  New biobased barrier coatings will offer new market opportunities for the paper industry because the new materials are an alternative to mineral oil based polymer packaging. Food manufacturers and retailers will benefit financially from the prolonged food shelf-life. The recycling of the biobased packaging is facilitated by simple enzymatic separation of the multilayers. As such, packaging manufacturers and packaging companies will be able to meet the requirements of the new German Packaging Act. In addition, the companies will benefit from an eco-friendly image and consequent consumer appeal.

Logo des BMWi als Hinweis auf die Förderung
Logo of the BMWi as a reference to the funding
AiF logo
IGF logo

Project term: 2018 to 2020
Project management
/project funding:
Federation of Industrial Research Associations AiF (via the Industrievereinigung für Lebensmitteltechnologie und Verpackung e. V. (IVLV))
/Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)