The European food packaging sector has a turnover of €6 Billion per year with the production of 200 Billion polymer trays, the vast majority of which are manufactured from virgin non-recyclable plastics such as polypropylene (PP). The plastics packaging thermoforming sector in Europe consists of over 1200 companies employing approx. 150,000 people. In excess of 70% of these jobs thermoforming companies are SMEs. This sector faces very significant competitiveness and environmental sustainability issues, which this project will address. The overall objective of the project is to make Europe the leader in low carbon footprint, high-recycled content and long shelf life polymer packaging.
Specifically the ECOPET project will demonstrate the innovative recycled Polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) technology developed in the RPET-FC FP7 project, which will significantly reduce the weight and carbon footprint of packaging. In conjunction with this lightweight material a high barrier polyester will be applied enabling full recyclability of the packaging. In order to further extend shelf life the performance of a natural antioxidant/anti-microbial sub-micron thick coating will be evaluated. The developed technology will replace the use of virgin polypropylene (PP), which is the current market leader in food packaging. The specific project objectives are to demonstrate:
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