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WHEYLAYER2: barrier biopolymers for sustainable packaging

Final Report Summary - WHEYLAYER 2 (WHEYLAYER2: barrier biopolymers for sustainable packaging)

Executive Summary:
WHEYLAYER2 project is a follow up of the WHEYLAYER project that developed a biopolymer-coating based on pure whey protein isolates (WPI) for plastic films able to replace currently used expensive synthetic oxygen barrier layers used in food packaging such as ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymers (EVOH). In this project, improvements in terms of process allowed participating packaging manufacturing SMEs to achieve a full scale industrial process with higher speed and production capacity thereby showing its industrial viability. To run the process faster, the kinetics of whey protein denaturation was studied (in relation with the patented Wheylayer® process).
As a preliminary requirement for commercialization, some additional industrialization steps such as robustness processing trials were carried out. Efforts to reduce the cost of the Wheylayer® formulations to make it more competitive in the tight packaging market were made by substituting WPI by whey protein concentrate (WPC) and therefore also allow the company MLANG to use their own residuals in the Wheylayer® formulation.
In addition, various improvements in terms of Wheylayer® formulation and resulting material properties were achieved to equip SMEPs with a Wheylayer® product line (as opposed to a single product) with enhanced technical Unique Selling Points and therefore the expected market acceptance for the new barrier coating. That included improved barrier properties, as well as further convertibility requests specific to the packaging sector.
During the project, adjusted formulations with improved thermoformability were developed in order to reach greater rates of deformation without cracks, or texture and transparency changes for applications such as trays, yogurt jars. A production scheme was suggested to overcome certain limitations observed during material storage.
In the project, work continued on totally compostable and/or biobased materials to offer alternative solutions to traditional plastics made from non-renewable fossil fuels. As such, the coating of biopolymers, such as regenerated cellulose (Natureflex®) with Wheylayer® was scaled up. The new thermoformed trays could complement the offer for bio-based trays which currently doesn’t reach the barrier standards required for sensitive food. Same applies to laminated tubes.
Storage tests were made for packaging cosmetics, pharmaceutical and dairy food products in Wheylayer-based blisters, tubes and pouches.
Furthermore, the certification of all relevant aspects of the Wheylayer® material and process was given a paramount during the course of the project. Certified food safety tests were performed and a safety compliance letter prepared (material safety data sheets not being required for such food products under REACH regulation). Technical data sheets (TDS) were created, and finally, environmental data sheets were prepared based on a peer-reviewed LCA, it was also considered comparing the Wheylayer® material environmental impact to existing solutions.
In addition, EU and Australia, Wheylayer® trademark was extended to USA and Japan and the patent which entered its national phase after a positive PCT evaluation was enforced in EU, USA, Japan and Australia.
All activities which were performed aimed at adjusting the results of the WHEYLAYER project to make them more suitable for all targeted segments in the packaging market. At the end of the project SMEPs are capacitated to start commercializing the different products developed in the project including coating formulations for the new biopolymers with improved barrier properties, as well as derived laminates and packaging, and to compete against larger enterprises. This recyclable bio-based multilayer materials represents a solution to the problem of end of life treatment of packaging for foodstuffs and cosmetics. Selected SMEs throughout the supply and value chain will form a spinoff company in the next months: Wheylayer ltd. to put on the new sustainable packaging solutions on the market and meet the need of environmentally aware consumers in Europe and beyond.

Project Context and Objectives:
In terms of initial project context in the fields of food packaging, there are high requirements on material in terms of barriers against light, moisture, water vapor and gases are specific to the type of food to be packed in order to guarantee a quality product throughout its shelf life. Protection against oxygen is a key factor. The appropriate packing atmosphere is needed to avoid color or taste deviation, oxidation of grease, formation of micro-organisms or degrading nutrients.
On the one hand, to achieve these requirements co-extruded or laminated multilayer plastic films are widely used in the packaging industry whereby ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymers (EVOH) are often used to obtain a sufficient oxygen barrier.
On the other hand, the plastic recycling process generally consists of the preliminary separation of the different types of polymers, the shredding of the plastic items, the washing of the resulting flakes and their re-compounding and processing into new, lower demanding applications. In such a context, while the combination of various layers is required for good food preservation, the recyclability of multilayer packaging is compromised, as mono-materials of high purity are needed for reprocessing.
Furthermore, as opposed to most synthetic plastics used as packaging materials, most of the currently available bioplastics do not meet the key requirements of food packaging especially in terms of barrier properties. Therefore research into sustainable packaging materials that maintain the performance of their composite structures has been recently intensified. An example is the present study, which aimed at developing a whey protein-coating for plastic films capable of replacing synthetic oxygen-barrier layers such as EVOH used in multilayer packaging. This whey protein-coating would represent a new application for this agro food industry waste while safeguarding the performance and enhancing the recyclability of multilayer films.
Indeed, whey is a by-product of cheese manufacturing that contains approximately 7% dry matter. In general the dry matter includes 13% proteins, 75% lactose, 8% minerals, approximately 3% organic acids and less than 1% fat. Whey protein can be separated and purified from the liquid whey using a membrane filtration process followed by spray drying to obtain either Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC, protein concentration 65-80 % in dry matter d.m.) or Whey Protein Isolate (WPI, protein concentrations over 90% in d.m.). In general, whey proteins are used as additives in the agrofood industry, however 40-50% of the 50 million tons of whey produced annually in Europe is still unprocessed. In addition, the generated waste can be highly polluting if not properly handled due to the high organic content of whey.
Thus, Wheylayer and Wheylayer2 projects built on past literature showing that edible coatings made of whey proteins offered good aroma, fat, humidity and oxygen barriers on, among others, peanuts, salmon, fruits or cereals. Such coatings helped to improve the shelf life of, for example, peanuts, by retarding the lipid oxidation causing rancidity. In addition, these edible films were reported not to modify the sensory attributes of the coated good or its aspect, while providing some health benefits for the consumer. A number of authors have also reported the good barrier properties of whey proteins based coating on paper, but also on plastic substrates. As yet, none of these academic studies has been routed to the industry, the Wheylayer 2 project mainly focused on demonstrating the scale-up ability.

As such, the overall aim of the WHEYLAYER2 project was to develop a sustainable and cost competitive multilayer packaging materials that would be based on whey protein concentrate (WPC) formulations, will had high oxygen and water vapour barrier properties as well as some specific properties (e.g. UV barrier), had to enhanced convertibility (thermoformable, printable, and appropriate for production of tubes). Besides, these materials have low carbon footprint, as was proved with certified life cycle assessments.
The objective of this project had thus centered on the development of whey protein coated plastic films in different applications (prototype films, tubes, blisters and trays) made of Wheylayer® material, which were industrially validated with packing food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical products.
To this end, the specific objectives were as follows:
• To prepare effective whey protein agglomerated formulations based on whey protein concentrate (WPC) that would enable to lower the price of the raw material used for production of WHEYLAYER material
• To improve barrier properties of the WHEYLAYER material by vacuum deposition
• To improve themorformability of the WHEYLAYER coated sheets to obtain blisters, trays and jars
• Toproduce WHEYLAYER formulation with specific properties (e.g. UV barrier, printability... ) to satisfy additional market requests
• To design and built a machine proving the scalability of the process and perform robust and consistent trials atat 50-100 m/min Coating speed
• To coat various standard (eg. polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephtalate (PET), polyvinyl chloride (PVC)) and bio-based (eg. PLA, cellophane) plastic substrates with WHEYLAYER formulations at industrial production rate
• To produce completely bio-based coated materials that can be composted and have enhanced barrier properties in comparison to current biopolymers and therefore extremely interesting to industry
• To convert previously obtained WHEYLAYER films into tubes and pouches of various structures, and sizes
• To produce blisters and trays made of WHEYLAYER material for packing food and pharmaceuticals at semi-industrial speed in different shapes and sizes.
• To store cosmetic products packed in tubes to prove that the material fulfils requirements of the cosmetics market including safety assessment
• To store food packed in WHEYLAYER pouches, thermoformed packaging and other formats to prove that the material fulfils all requirements of the food market including migration tests

• To store pharmaceutical products packed in WHEYLAYER blisters to prove they fulfil all requirements of the pharmaceutical including migration.
• To perform life cycle assessment (LCA) to allow quantifying the environmental impact on different WHEYLAYER materials and to obtain a peer review validation of the results of the same.
• To prepare different marketing materials (MSDS and TDS) as well as documents about the environmental advantage of the WHEYLAYER-based material to give confidence to the customer both in terms of reliability and suitability of the properties and of safe handling and use.
• To demonstrate the performance, usage and unique environmental benefits of the WHEYLAYER packaging solutions through the realisation of demonstration sessions targeted at a large target audience including packaging, food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals manufacturers.
• To make market analysis of each targeted sector and plan initial joint exploitation and marketing strategies
• To prepare communication and promotion tools (website, leaflet, brochures, etc.) to reach broad scientific, industrial and public audiences

Project Results:
The exploitable Scientific & Technological S&T results generated in the project are highly diverse including number of aspects (each one is defined briefly in terms of public aspects in the next paragraphs and in further extend in the related deliverables of the project). They have been categorized as follow in the purpose of distributing the foreground among the partners (the first one being protected and the following 2 being public results that helps advertising the new product, as opposed to all the other that are considered as confidential know how, of which certain aspects may have been used to generate public documents such as the technical data sheets or a video of the process that can be found on the project website):

• Wheylayer® patent for additional countries (applied in the previous project)
• Results of environmental assessment for Wheylayer®
• Results of the safety assessment for Wheylayer®
• Know-how regarding the conditions for printing Wheylayer® based films
• Knowledge regarding coating process improvement to reach industrial production speed
• Design of any specific part for processing Wheylayer®
• Wheylayer® laminated tubes, bottles and cans (structure and process)
• Improvements to Wheylayer® coated films
• Wheylayer® thermoformed blisters and trays (structure and process)
• Process to obtain WPC, and agglomerate it to get optimised protein product for Wheylayer®
• Knowhow on process parameters and conditions for different Wheylayer® coating formulations
• Know-how regarding the conditions to obtain biodegradable coated films at large scale
• Cost competitive WPC based formulations
• Formulations with improved thermoformability
• Formulations with improved barrier, including barrier to UV
• Know-how regarding the application of vacuum deposited inorganic layers on Wheylayer®
• Know-how regarding the use of Wheylayer® based blisters for storing pharmaceutical products
• Know-how regarding the use of Wheylayer® based tubes for storing cosmetic products
• Know-how regarding the use of Wheylayer® based packaging for storing food products

Overall, the Wheylayer® process allowing obtaining the subsequent Wheylayer products along the supply and value chain comprises several successive stages. First of all, the whey is transformed into WPI, the obtained protein is then modified if needed and formulated thanks to the addition of the necessary additives. The Wheylayer® formulation is then coated on the substrate which then goes through lamination and eventually post-processes to obtain the packaging items to pack the selected goods before any required post-operation. The packed goods are then commercialised, and at the end of the life of the packaging item, it is collected and recycled.
Each stage may require an adaptation for the new material and/or the generation of intermediary materials/formulations, which could generate new business opportunities along the supply and value chain.
The results from WHEYLAYER project have been upgraded and up scaled and the basis of the most exploitable assets of the consortium. They are discussed below before commenting the new foreground of the WHEYLAYER 2 project.

Wheylayer® barrier coating Formulation & properties
The water born barrier coating formulation of the Wheylayer® material is trade secret and determined by the following parameters: dry matter (d.m.) content, Whey protein nature and content, plasticizer nature and content, further additives that may be needed to enhance certain properties. Further improvements were made in terms of formulations during the WHEYLAYER 2 project such as development of cost competitive WPC based formulations, formulations with improved thermoformability and/or with improved barrier, including barrier to UV are ongoing. WHEYLAYER 2 also centred on the production of ready-to-use whey protein coating formulations (as a solid mixture). Agglomeration allows a much better flow ability and dissolution behaviour for the protein powder to maximise the user friendliness but also the drying process eco-efficiency by reducing water content, and the deposited thickness per pass once dried. In addition, by mixing the protein with the plasticizers, it gives a ready-to-use solution for the packaging converter to dissolve in water to obtain suitable coatings while safeguarding the trade secret and knowhow from the project in terms of formulation. The agglomeration facilitates the preparation of a product line of formulations with different compositions tailored to the needs of the end users in terms of process and required properties.
Wheylayer® achieved much superior barrier properties compared to other bioplastics. The claimed values are very close for WPI and WPC formulations. Wheylayer® coating can substitute other synthetic barrier layers, such as EVOH, while providing recyclability to multilayer films. The properties were used to prepare technical data sheets for the new products from coating powder to laminates and final packaging forms.

Process for applying Wheylayer®
Based on the tests at the lab and pilot scale and further scale up tests in the WP5, various types of coaters, including engraved roller coaters at high speed are suitable for the application of the Wheylayer® formulation on the carrier film. It was furthermore showed that a preliminary Corona treatment is needed in order to generate sufficient adhesion between the carrier film and the Wheylayer® coating. After application, the Wheylayer® coating needs to be cured / dried before the film can be winded. This stage is done using a combination of IR lamps and convective fans at a determined airflow and temperature. Both the formulation and the design of the drier used have been optimised in order to have an eco-efficient process. This knowhow in terms of set up parameters is valuable in order to allow the transfer of production of Wheylayer® in new production facilities and eventually modify existing equipment so it can handle Wheylayer®.
Further improvements were made in terms of process during the WHEYLAYER 2 project. Additional knowledge was generated on process parameters and conditions for different Wheylayer® coating formulations to be applied on a range of substrate leading to improved quality of Wheylayer® coated films. Such knowhow was extended all along the processing trials in WP2 at different scales and depending on the target structure in line with the target application. In particular new foreground regarding the conditions to obtain biodegradable coated films at large scale was generated. A lot of new knowledge regarding coating process improvement to reach industrial production speed was also generated. Indeed this aspect is not trivial due to the in-process structuring of the protein that govern the barrier properties and such understanding is critical to enforce the conditions described in the Wheylayer® patent and allow licensing it. After licensing of the patent, Wheylayer® process is easily integrable at plastic films/packaging producers now matching industrial speeds of up to 100 m/min greatly increased during WHEYLAYER 2 project.

Further conversion of coated films
Using post-processes available in the industry such as lamination, thermoforming, thermosealing, welding, versatile sustainable packaging solutions can be derived from Wheylayer®-coated films.
As opposed to WHEYLAYER that focused on coating films, additional foreground is generated in WHEYLAYER 2 regarding the possibility to undergo further operations such as the application of vacuum deposited inorganic layers or the capability for printing on Wheylayer® based films, as well as further converting those into different packaging items. The laminate structure and suitable process for deriving Wheylayer® laminated tubes, bottles and cans as well as thermoformed blisters and trays and their further use for storing pharmaceutical, cosmetic or food products were studied. The thermoforming process has to be specific due to the evolution (post-crosslinking) of the Wheylayer® based laminates. Solutions to allow stable conversion are being investigated during the subsequently started Thermowhey project (

Process for recycling the multilayer plastic
The holistic “cradle to grave environmental approach followed throughout the Wheylayer® material and process development provided a new packaging solution, with increased sustainability, to environmentally aware producers and consumers. Wheylayer® is based on bio-sourced materials obtained as a reuse of a waste by-product from agro-food industry (no food competition). The Wheylayer® is obtained through an eco-efficient process.
Wheylayer® allows recyclability of multilayer packaging.The recycling process consists of the shredding of the films, the washing and the separation of each plastic flakes so that each can be recycled independently. The washing stage of the recycling process needs to be tuned to allow the hydrolysis of the Wheylayer® using enzymes (concentration in the range of 4% of Terg-a-zyme), the slight warming up of water or extended washing duration. This element of foreground is not expected to lead to commercial exploitation, and the related information is public, and as such no partners related to that aspect are involved in the WHEYLAYER 2 project.
As a further exploitable foreground in WHEYLAYER 2, some Wheylayer®-coated bioplastic substrates were developed (based on either cellophane or PLA) giving rise to fully compostable solutions with improved barrier properties.
The LCA performed comparing EVOH and Wheylayer®-based laminates showed a lowered environmental impact, with key savings in terms of raw materials and end of life. Further LCAs on selected final packaging were done during WHEYLAYER 2 project and environmental data sheets were delivered. Those environmental data sheets are based on peer-reviewed LCA results. Complementary comparative results from the University of Pisa, outside of the scope of the peer-review indicate, in the worst case scenario a benefit of environmental impact ranging 15-30% while using WHEYLAYER instead of the conventional material used in similar applications. Further consideration in terms of valorisation of wasted whey and production upscaling would allow reaching improvements by 40-50% in terms of environmental impact.

Intellectual Property rights:
Exploitable foreground also included IPRs from the project are a patent and Wheylayer® trademark. So S&T wise, the patent was applied for as world patent with priority number PCT / IB 2011 / 053271, Application date July 22, 2011 regarding the process of “Whey coated films”. The patent has been positively examined by the world patent office during the course of Wheylayer2. In January 2014, the patent was enforced in Europe, Japan, USA, Australia.

Exploitation of foreground in new research
Throughout the project, the consortium has identified possible fields of future research activities based on related areas to this project to enable complete technical development or to support faster and more successful market entry for products/processes developed in this project. Those included simulation for material optimization as well as an ongoing project to improve thermoformability of trays after storing Wheylayer® coated materials. In addition, using Wheylayer® among other (commercially available) biopolymers is now within the toolbox related with sustainable packaging, and several ideas emerged for example for enhancing barrier using nanotechnologies. Finally work is also needed to get sustainable tube shoulders as Wheylayer is only suitable for the walls due to different processing technologies.

Potential Impact:
Socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project:

One of the most ubiquitous commodities in the world is plastic packaging, and finding ways to reduce dependence on petroleum-based materials is big business in a world where green awareness is taking centre stage. Moreover, with petroleum-based material prices continuing to rise, the motivation for the packaging industry to use less petroleum is high.
The main market considered for WHEYLAYER project was that of multilayer films. Flexible films represent ca. 25% of all plastics used worldwide, around 40 million tonnes, and are thus a massive market sector (mostly using commodity plastics such as polyolefin). Bio-based plastics (derived from either plant sources or proteins) represent a niche. In these multilayer films are generally employed one layer for gas barrier. Global functional additives and barrier coatings market for plastic packaging follow a 5,7% annual growth. One of the main target of the Wheylayer® material is to replace synthetic barrier polymers with EVOH (Ethylene vinyl alcohol) being the main barrier material used in the flexible food packaging. The annual market of EVOH was in the range of 110,000t in 2005 dominated by Japan with an annual growth around 5%. There is currently no established bio-based barrier layer.
There is a strong demand for tubes but also thermoformed packaging made from renewable resources with low carbon footprintbut there is a gap for sustainable barrier materials. These benefits will channel down to the tubes end-users in the cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and food sectors.
Depending on the nature of the selected substrates associated with the whey coating, resulting laminates can be recycled traditionally or organically. Wheylayer entry on the market will provide packaging manufacturers and end users with a technology allowing them to design recyclable multilayer packaging or fully compostable solutions, and therefore help them to meet requirements set in legislations such as the directive on packaging (waste 94/62/CE and 2004/12/CE).

The bioplastics market in Europe, already the most important region globally, is heavily growingat a rate of 20-30 % per year. With demand higher than supply, there is sufficient room for new materials like Wheylayer as well as existing companies to grow. Additionally, more legislation favouring bioplastics is expected to come into place, further enhancing opportunities for both existing participants and companies looking to enter the market. The main drivers of this growth are twofold are consumer demand for environmentally-friendly products and volatile price of petroleum.
Much of this growth today is linked to typical compostable and biodegradable biopolymers. In 2006, the European bioplastics market was dominated by starch-based materials, but it is now dominated by drop in solutions like bio-based PET and PE.
Wheylayer will undoubtedly reduce the sector’s dependence on petroleum as a base material, in that the bio-based Wheylayer® material uses waste residues from cheese production. Moreover, its use as a substitute for conventional fossil-fuel based co-polymers will serve to diversify away from petroleum-based materials. The way forward for a sustainable packaging industry is to find new raw material sources that are in abundant supply, that are cost-effective in order to be commercially viable, that do not harm the environment or compete with food production.
Given that some 925 million people go hungry in the work each day, and with the world population expected to reach 9.1 billion by 20501, it is absolutely imperative that research moves us away from the use of food competing resources for plastics and packaging applications.
As the threat of food security and starvation mounts in the face of a rapidly growing world population and the deviation of land away from food production to other lucrative chemical, plastic and energy applications, there is a pressing need, and indeed a responsibility, to invest in research and development, such as Wheylayer® that can redress this situation. The raw materials used for Wheylayer® do not compete either with food production or virgin forest protection; instead they use waste material from food production. Such an approach is vital to preserving food security and environmental protection. This is the only true sustainable way forward for truly ethical developments and advancements in bioplastics.

Whey, a by-product from cheese manufacture, which is in abundant supplywith about 90% of the milk used for cheese making ending up as whey; each year the EU produces 50 million tonnes of whey, of which some 40% is discarded according to data from the International Whey Conference, Paris, 2008, showing that raw material is available for Wheylayer®. However that represents a pollution issue due to soil acidification and high organic content preventing the possibility to be discarded with standard water.In the past, whey was directly discharged to the environment without an adequate treatment and/or revalorisation due to high transport and processing costs, generating an important environmental impact, as whey permeate has high chemical and biological oxygen demands (DBO and DQO). For this reason, from 24th of September 1996, the EU considers whey protein as a contaminant residuum and its disposal is banned in the Directive 96/91, relative to the control and prevention of the contamination. Over the past two decades or so technological advances have made it economically possible to recover soluble proteins from cheese whey. In the past the cost of disposing of whey has driven some of the smaller cheese makers out of business.
Nevertheless, whey is finding more and more applications but small dairy cooperatives like MLANG still use it to feed own farm animals, therefore Wheylayer can valorize the protein fractions while still having a composition suitable for the current use. The new offer for local production and supply of barrier polymers is a really interesting evolution for the packaging industry in Europe since Japan produces most EVOH and whereby PVDC, another important barrier polymer, is banned in several European countries. But in addition, Wheylayer® could offer a local (European) solution to whey disposal without food competition as there would still be excess available for more applications. Indeed, converting 40% of the excess whey in EU would be sufficient to substitute worldwide needs for EVOH for food packaging
WHEYLAYER opens new value added application for whey protein and based on an increasing processing capability, it would lead to preventing environmentally hazardous whey from ending up in European waste streams. Cheese making industry at European level will be supported, as demand for whey increases, which will have a very positive impact on rural sustainability as dairy industry is the backbone of many EU rural economies.

A part from valorizing a by-product, from the other side of the value chain, packaging is a really important factor to save food, especially taking into account that saving food leads to saving 10 times more energy than reducing packaging material. Thus the packaging material, as is the case for Wheylayer®, does not only need to be greener, it above all needs to comply with the requirements for an excellent preservation of the food quality.
Plastics with good oxygen barrier are needed to prevent oxidation which is the (generally degradative) effect that oxygen and other substances (selected mineral ions, free radicals, etc.) have on fats and oils as well as on animal cells and tissues. For example, human and animal cell membranes contain phospholipids, which play an important role in the functionality of the cells. Certain radicals will result in the oxidation of the phospholipids resulting in the damage to the cells. This process may eventually result in the onset of the various chronic diseases. In the food industry, fats and oils are used as functional ingredients, and their oxidation affects the taste, aroma and shelf life of food products. An increasing awareness among consumers of the potential connection between antioxidants in foods and the prevention of chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes led food manufacturers to look for packaging solution that will better prevent oxidation, including active packaging, with no need to add synthetic antioxidants within the foodstuff. It is also in line with the policy of organic companies producing food but also cosmetics.

All in all, the main socio-economic impacts of the Wheylayer® material and process can be summarised as follows:
- The plastic materials, packaging, and manufacturing process markets will be broadened thanks to the introduction of novel products
- Plastic industry will be provided with a new barrier material - The need for valuable raw materials will be decreased with consequent better use of resources in that Wheylayer® will be produced by waste by-products, pose environmental impact via their disposal and do not involve food competition.
- The share of recycled plastics and bio-plastics will increase - this is important given that plastic that ends up in landfill (not to mention the plastic containers that end up in our seas and oceans) has a life measured in hundreds to thousands of years. The uptake of solutions such as Wheylayer®used as a bioplastic material in packaging applications would help to redress the problem of growing and persistent volumes of land and marine litter.
- The image of plastics, especially in food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical packaging, will improve
- Scrap levels will be reduced throughout the involved stakeholder supply and value chain (from dairy to plastic and packaging industries)
- Further positive environmental benefits through the reduction of non-renewable/fossil resources depletion, a reduction of energy consumption and related CO2 emissions (as the price of oil continues to increase) contribute to the replacement of a significant portion of the over 250 million tonnes of petroleum-based plastics used worldwide today.
- The recyclability of packaging will be enhanced and this could heighten standards and practices in that area. The project could lead to implementing interesting business agreement between the users and the recyclers to ensure a close loop throughout the life cycle of the Wheylayer® material. When using a compostable/biodegradable substrate the end of life packages would also be qualified for organic recycling.
- All above mentioned impacts will result in protection of jobs in packaging industry and in increasing of competitiveness of European packaging sector in relation to global market

Dissemination activities:

During the project WHEYLAYER 2 the consortium made altogether 77 dissemination activities of which there are 19 publications, 14 published articles, it attended 13 conferences and 5 fairs, it organized 2 seminars, workshop and 2 demonstration session. 15 presentation of the project were made and 6 press releases. Partners also used other sources of communication such as social media twitter. The most relevant examples are published below and accessible from the project website.


The project was presented in key conferences: TUBA, IRIS, PCS attended the PLASTiCE conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in September 2012 and presented the project and TUBA’s experiences. The PLASTiCE Conference held stage to a large number of distinguished experts. The project Kick Off was held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in the subsequent days to allow more partners to attend the conference too.

The project was presented in bilateral conference Slovenia – Croatia “recycling of plastic waste”. The conference was organized by PCS in October 2012 at the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and held a consultation Slovenian-Croatian producers and processors of plastic waste from PLASTICMAS. The conference was attended by about 100 visitors coming from industry and scientific community.
The project was presented at the 4th International Conference on Biodegradable and Biobased polymers, BioPol2013, 1-3 October 2013, Rome, Italy to a worldwide audience from research institutions and industries.

Trade fairs:

The project was presented in largest national Slovenian trade fairs in the field of plastics. They displayed the project posters and distributed the leaflet: PCS participated in PLAGKEM 2013 in Celje, Slovenia, in April 2013 with a booth where they have presented their activities and products and among others also the project WHEYLAYER 2. Some interest was shown in WHEYLAYER 2 project.

Trade fair MOS(International Fair of crafts and entrepreneurship) in September 2013 was the meeting point for business innovation, development, and state of the art enterprising people. Provides a comprehensive presentation of new products and services provides a comprehensive insight into the major challenges of entrepreneurs and the economy in the wider business environment and encourages dialogue. PCS presented WHEYLAYER 2 project.
IRIS presented WHEYLAYER 2 project at Pharmaprocess, a trade fair for the pharmaceutical sector celebrated in Barcelona end of October 2013 with more than 800 attendants. The visitors could know about Wheylayer through the leaflets, samples and touchscreen information they found at IRIS stand.

UNIPI attended the Ecomondo trade fair in Rimini in November 2013. They exhibited the WHEYLAYER 2 project within this event aiming at being a platform for Green Solutions.

The project partners presented WHEYLAYER 2 at Interpack, Düsseldorf/Germany in May 2014. WHEYLAYER 2 was met with success among attendants and over 200 visitors were actively interested on the unique new O2 barrier biopolymer. 4 project partners shared a stand (IRIS, TUBA, Fraunhofer and Serviplast), to participate in the dissemination of the project to the trade fair visitors, bringing several support materials and samples to deliver among the visitors and show the benefits of the project development.

WHEYLAYER 2 project was present at PLMA International trade fair (World of Private Label), an event to put in contact retailers and manufacturers, celebrated in Amsterdam in May 2014. TUBA had a booth at the trade fair and exposed Wheylayer communication material and samples to the visitors.


The WHEYLAYER 2 project was present at 4th Workshop on Green Chemistry. Dr. Elodie Bugnicourt (IRIS) reviewed different strategies for the valorisation of wastes from agro-food processing, including the one pursued in the WHEYLAYER 2 project, to obtain truly sustainable bioplastics and their applications as sustainable packaging during the 4th Workshop on Green Chemistry and Nanotechnologies in Polymer Chemistry organized by the Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering, University of Pisa and Institute for Composite and Biomedical Materials, CNR, September 2013 in Pisa, Italy.
The WHEYLAYER 2 project was present at 5th Workshop on Green Chemistry, 9-11 July, 2014, San Sebastian, Spain, with a poster by UNIPI.

Demonstration Sessions:

Project WHEYLAYER 2 had two demonstration sessions. The first one was organized by project coordinator TUBA in Slovenia. Demonstration was held on July 4th 2014 in Austria Trend Hotel Ljubljana and in the facilities of project partner TUBA. This demonstration session was organized for presenting new packaging material to the food industry, cosmetic industry, packaging producers and others interested stakeholders from the supply and value chain and all project partners actively participated.
The second was organized by project partner MLANG in Germany. Demonstration was held on July 28th 2014 in Germany. Due to the nature of the audience, presentation was performed in German language and was focused mainly on packaging industry.
The aim of both demonstration sessions was to introduce up-scale production to potential end users and to others who were interested in getting to know the new high quality barrier bio-based materials. In order to introduce developed products and to explain the potential use for different application and the improved properties of new material consortium prepared video presentation which can be found on official site of WHEYLAYER 2 project. Furthermore the consortium was always opened to answer on any question regarding to new products and its development and it was also in its high interest to invite and attract on demonstration sessions as much people as possible and as well as from different areas of industry. As a result of this effort companies from different sectors attend demonstration sessions, they were from beverage industry, cosmetics industry, packaging industry, utility infrastructure and production of protection coatings industry and others. Project consortium members presented all important findings and achievements of the WHEYLAYER 2 project, keeping in mind not to reveal any confidential information that could endanger protectable project results. Consortium believes that demonstration activities reached wider public from different industry as well as from several different countries and it made sure that demonstration action will continue also after the end of the project with video presentation which was made in the final stage of WHEYLAYER 2.
Other activities (seminars, published articles, appearances on TV, …)

In order to present WHEYLAYER 2 to wider public consortium used different tools to accomplish this task. Project partners make sure that WHEYLAYER find its way to appear in mass media in terms of published articles, interviews performed on national TV, seminars which were organized for civil and scientific public. Below are described some dissemination actives which were implemented during the course of the project.

• Tuba Seminar: Trends in the packaging industry
Lajovic Tuba embalaža, d.o.o. (TUBA) presented the WHEYLAYER 2 project on September 12, 2013 at the 4th seminar on packaging (Trends in the packaging industry – from cost optimization to the use of sustainable materials and intelligent packaging) organized by ZelenaSlovenija® and which was held in Celje. Some novelties and trends in the packaging industry were presented at the seminar as well as major international projects involving Slovenian companies and specialist from research institutions. The seminar also revealed many aspects of the cost optimization in the packaging manufacture. Seminar brought together packaging producers and users. The seminar addressed variety of companies from manufacture and service sector, environmentalists (including NGOs), educational and research institutions, companies dealing with waste management.

• Presentation of project Wheylayer 2 at the University of Maribor
On the 9th of April 2013, the Wheylayer2 project was presented at the University of Maribor by the project coordinator Urška Sušnik Pivk, from Lajovic Tuba Company. Students of Economics and Business attended this presentation about the Wheylayer2 Demonstration Activity project as the follow-on phase from the very successful Wheylayer project that developed a biopolymer-coating based on whey protein for plastic films.

• Wheylayer in an article about plastic solution in Plastics Today highlights
A Plastic Today highlighted Wheylayer in an article on trends in the development of bioplastics for packaging solutions. The magazine, specialised in the plastic industry, published an article about the bioplastic and its role for the present and future of packaging, making references to some solutions presented at Interpack 2014 and mentioning Wheylayer as one of the outstanding projects.

• Appearance on TV and published article in connection with received award for the best Eco product 2013 in recognition of Wheylayer
Project partner TUBA received the Nationality Award for the Best Eco Product in 2013, in recognition of Wheylayer tubes. The award was delivered by Dr. Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment, and some media published the news:
- The TV channel Dnevnik SLO1 dedicates a space in the news to talk about the awards
- The Magazine Finance also mentioned the award ceremony

• Technical article was published in Bioplastics Magazine
Dr. Ing. Elodie Bugnicourt and M. Schmith published a technical article titled “Films with excelent barrier properties” in Bioplastics Magazine (vol 8. Setember 2013) with references to Wheylayer project.

• Wheylayer 2 project appeared in the most watched Slovenian TV program
POP TV, a prime TV program from the Slovenian TV interviewed the director of Lajovic Tuba, one of the Wheylayer project partners regarding to WHEYLAYER 2 project.

• Published article in Asia Pacific Food Industrie
Packaging constitutes a major market share of the Plastic industry despite its often short term application. With growing concerns on the environment and resources, Whey coated Packaging can be the solution for the future that is made from Waste materials and is recyclable. By Elodie Bugnicourt, Innovació i Recerca Industrial I Sostenible (IRIS)

• Published article in newspaper World of Mechanical Engineering in September 2013 edition
Slovenian scientific magazine published an article about the Wheylayer2

• Article in online French magazine Industrie&Technologies
French online magazine Industrie&Technologies talked about the Wheylayer2 project in an article aimed at highlighting the biopolymer-coating based on whey protein residue for the production of sustainable plastic films

• Wheylayer 2 in Tubica magazine
Tubica, Lajovic Tuba’s magazine, published an article about the Wheylayer2 Demonstration Activity project, which is the follow-on phase from the very successful - WHEYLAYER project that developed a biopolymer-coating based on whey protein for plastic films.

• Article in Food Packages magazine
Under the headline “Il film chenasce dal latte” or “the milk by-product film”, Food Packages magazine published a comprehensive article on the WHEYLAYER technology in its August 2012 issue.

• WHEYLAYER 2 on Euronews: Success story of the development of greener plastic. Video available on

• WHEYLAYER 2 on Catalan TV on the World Environment Day
On the World Environment Day, WHEYLAYER featured on the Catalan Television (TV3) as a great solution for improving nowadays sustainability.

Scientific publications:

• A research article on the WHEYLAYER as a sustainable packaging solution
The Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV, the Barcelona-based Innovació i Recerca Industrial i Sostenible (IRIS) and the Department of Chemical Engineering, Industrial Chemistry and Materials Science of the University of Pisa joined efforts and published a research article on “Properties of Whey-Protein-Coated Films and Laminates as Novel Recyclable Food Packaging Materials with Excellent Barrier Properties”

• A research article was published in an open access journal on the up scaling and validation of the Wheylayer process proving its industrial potential.
The Barcelona-based Innovació i Recerca Industrial i Sostenible (IRIS), the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV, and the Department of Chemical Engineering, Industrial Chemistry and Materials Science of the University of Pisa joined efforts and published a research article entitled “Processing and Validation of Whey-Protein-Coated Films and Laminates at Semi-Industrial Scale as Novel Recyclable Food Packaging Materials with Excellent Barrier Properties”.

• A research article on the WHEYLAYER as a biodegradable packaging solution
The Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering of the University of Pisa, the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV, the Barcelona-based Innovació i Recerca Industrial i Sostenible (IRIS) joined efforts and published a research article on “Whey protein layer applied on a biodegradable packaging film to improve barrier properties while maintaining biodegradability “published on polymer Degradation and Stability, 108, 2014, 151-157.

• A research article was published in an open access journal on the up scaling and validation of the Wheylayer process proving its industrial potential.

More papers are in preparation; especially one regarding the simulation of the whey protein denaturation was recently submitted to an open access journal.
All the above represent the public dissemination activities of the project, but in addition, most partners realized number of non-formal face to face dissemination initiatives through visits to customers, suppliers, business partners or explaining the project to peers, as well as through training activities.

Urška Sušnik Pivk
Lajovic Tuba embalaža, d.o.o.
Verovškova c. 66
1000 Ljubljana
Tel.: + 386 (0)1 563 67 24