Skip to main content

New bio-based food packaging materials with enhanced barrier properties – BioBarrier

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - BioBarr (New bio-based food packaging materials with enhanced barrier properties – BioBarrier)

Reporting period: 2020-06-01 to 2021-11-30

Food is the only product class typically consumed 3 times per day by every person; consequently, in terms of volume, food packaging accounts for almost 50% of total packaging waste, which is a large quantity (Vimal Katizar, 2017).

Traditional packaging products used on the FOOD market are represented by 99% plastic of fossil origin with only 1% represented by bioplastics. However, such indiscriminate use of synthetic packaging films has led to a serious ecological problem.

As active drivers for sustainable development, BioBarr Consortium has teamed up to proactively searching for alternatives to fossil based raw materials to be applied in the food packaging sector, contributing in an innovative manner to facing and tackle the economic and environmental problems represented by the use of fossil fuels.

BioBarr project aims to develop along 54 months, at European level, a new food packaging system starting from the innovative biopolymers family of Poly-Hydroxy-Alkanoates (PHAs). The biopolymer, derived from natural bacterial fermentation of agricultural wastes or co-products, will represent the support on which further functionalization, based on surface treatments or lamination treatments, will be developed for obtaining an environmentally sustainable packaging able to guarantee the optimal preservation of foods. This solution is a potential alternative to current fossil-based packaging solutions such as PP or PE.

Innovative functionalisation treatments have been tested taking into account the criteria that apply to conventional packaging materials associated with foods: barrier properties (water, gases, light, aroma) but also optical properties, strength, welding and moulding properties, marking and printing properties, migration/scalping requirements, chemical and temperature resistance properties, machinability, shelf-life in final applications, cost/benefit ratio, market perspectives, environmental and economic sustainability of the process.

The project involved companies and research centers from four EU countries, able to cover the entire value chain. The Project Coordinator is Tecnoalimenti, a research organisation for the food sector with over 40 years experience in food industry research and multidisciplinary projects.
According to the activities carried out in 54 months of project, the project obtained a PHB-based, bio-based, compostable and biodegradable, compatible for food contact, printable with conventional solvent-based and compostable inks, functionalised with multi-layers or surface treatments, flexible packaging reel prototype, for applications in the food sector for short shelf-life products. The barrier properties still need to be improved, as well as the brittleness problem typically complained in the literature in relation to such polyesters is hard to overcome, limiting in this way also the mechanical performances of the final packaging solution.
The end result from BioBarr is a new bio-based and fully compostable and biodegradable packaging for food applications.

The novel solutions applied in this project concern the intelligent combination of advanced technological elements: i) a bacteria-borne biodegradable material, ii) new coating treatment technologies, iii) completely biodegradable bio-ink for food packaging.

A debate over the possible scenarios facing BioBarr after the end of the project has been outlined by the benchmarking analysis carried out along the first 36 months of the project, as well as by the exploitation context study. If we consider that: (i) food industry is interesting in bioplastics, (ii) consumers as well generally associate positive meanings to such term, mostly in relation to environmental impact, and are willing to select products packed with green packaging and to pay more (even if no more than 10%), (iii) legislation is generally in favour of solutions as that proposed by BioBarr and the forecasts which expect a gradual but significant improvement in PHA production, moving from current 1.8% to 6.4%, we can say that in a near future the chance to hace success on the market are high.

Even if important results have been achieved, BioBarr solution cannot be considered ready for commercialisation yet. Indeed, some gaps remain still open. Overcome them, moving from the current TRL 5 to 7-8, the commercialisation will be possible.
aaaa.jpg