Spain-based research project examining whey protein as possible replacement for existing plastic coatings for multilayer packaging to boost recyclability of packaging materials
November 21, 2012
– Development of sustainable protein-based paper and paperboard coating systems to increase the recyclability of food and beverage packaging materials
Start date: 2012-11-01
End date: 2015-10-31
Project cost: 3351457 EURO (4293886.7084 US dollars)
Project Funding: 2470930 EURO (3165755.5160 US dollars)
Duration: 36 months
Worldwide about 7 million tonnes of coated paper, paperboard and cardboard (cartons) are currently manufactured annually mainly for food and beverage packaging. The standard coating material currently used is petrochemical-based polyethylene (PE). Typical laminate packaging contains about 20% of this material. Increased political, legislative and consumer pressure to reduce the dependency on fossil fuel based plastics poses a major challenge for packaging producers to seek sustainably sourced alternative materials that do not harm the environment in their manufacture, exhibit enhanced recyclability and offer similar performance to their conventional plastic counterparts. There is a need to provide producers of coated carton manufacturers with a bio-based material that will enable them to substitute much of the currently used PE coating without compromising the humidity barrier properties of the resulting packaging materials and overcome the current challenge to the recycling of such packaging.
This project will build on past research that has revealed that Whey protein coating can replace existing plastic coatings in multilayer packaging and enhance their recyclability. A coating system will be developed based on renewable raw materials derived from agrofood waste and its technological application for extrusion coating cartons to produce packaging materials for both solid and liquid food products. The innovative coating formulations will be based on proteins from whey and potato starch. The resulting laminates will be validated for their suitability to replace the currently used synthetic plastics in a range of carton packaging materials and the improvement of the recycling process whereby the biodegradation of the extruded bio-coating will allow separating more easily the other combined layers will also be proved. Uptake of the novel bio-material will increase the sustainability and competitiveness of the EU packaging industry.
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