Plastics technology center Aimplas (Valencia, Spain) has developed new sustainable packaging that extends the shelf-life of cheese and fresh pasta. Coordinated within the framework of the European project BIO4MAP, the result has been a new generation of barrier, multilayer and transparent packages with a cost 25% lower than conventional ones, and a lower environmental impact carbon footprint by up to 29%.
The material is a combination of different layers of bioplastics (PLA, PVOH and adhesives) and a wax coating obtained from olive leaves, making it possible for the development of biodegradable packages, such as bags, bottles and caps to contain products requiring treatments like pasteurization or sterilization.
Aimplas said it uses PLA because it is an easy-recyclable material with excellent mechanical properties, and also PVOH because it provides barrier to gases and is water-soluble, so it disappears in the washing process, thus allowing recycling PLA. Both layers are joined by innovative biodegradable adhesives, while a wax coating made from olive leaves provides water vapor barrier. This coating, which does not disappear in the washing process, acts like a plasticizer for PLA, thus improving its flexibility. The combined materials have a carbon footprint 57% lower than the footprint of materials traditionally used in packaging manufacturing to contain this kind of food.
The €1.5 million research project is funded by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme, managed by the Research Executive Agency and has a duration of 30 months.
"The role of Aimplas in this project, besides coordinating it, has been focused on developing the biodegradable and oxygen-barrier material, needed to comply with the final requirements of the food to be packaged, as well as being the responsible of processing the new materials developed to obtain the new multilayer packaging", explains Nuria López, main researcher of the project in AIMPLAS.