EU grants Sheffield Hallam University over €3M to launch NewGenPak global expert research group to create new generation of eco-friendly paper products, aims to advance areas including packaging composites, cellulose fiber based active packaging

SHEFFIELD, England , January 20, 2012 (press release) – Sheffield Hallam University has secured more than €3m from the European Union to launch NEWGENPAK, a new group which brings together experts in sustainable packaging from across Europe, with a mission to create the next generation of environmentally-friendly paper products.

The group, which has now had its first meeting, will draw on expertise from Sweden, Poland, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK to develop new packaging that is both environmentally friendly and economically viable.

And it also has a brief to train and equip a cohort of new, young researchers with the multi-disciplinary skills to develop sustainable packaging - effectively creating the next generation of experts.

They will conduct top level, individual research projects which will advance the state of the art in three areas - next generation packaging composites, cellulose fibre based active packaging and the effect of packaging production on the environment, the economy and society as a whole.

The NEWGENPAK group is a Marie Curie Initial Training Network, coordinated by Sheffield Hallam, and made up of eight European universities, four research institutes and six enterprises. It brings together expertise in chemistry, materials science, biopolymer chemistry, nanoparticle production and characterization, paper, board, innovative coating formulation and processing methods, as well as package concept, design, testing and production, meaning the group can develop packages from the initial concept phase, right though to realisation.

Professor Chris Breen from the University's Materials and Engineering Research Institute, who is leading the project, said: "Currently very few researchers are trained to deal with such a broad variety of disciplines, and are thus insufficiently prepared to assist with the commercial challenges of delivering sustainable packages that are both economically viable and environmentally fit for purpose.

"NEWGENPAK participants will be engaged in a multi-disciplinary research training network that will educate the next generation of highly-qualified researchers and project managers who will drive continuing progress in sustainable packaging."

Carol Hammond, Head of Research and Development at Chesapeake, one of the research partners, explained that the expertise created by NEWGENPAK has the potential to create a new generation of packaging.

She said: "Cardboard products are made from a very sustainable material. If it is enhanced with greater functionality, such as barrier properties to prevent moisture loss or has increased shape flexibility, its use can be extended to a greater number of market applications.

"Our team of experts is focused on developing the next generation of environmentally-friendly products that could change the face of paper packaging."

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