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Novel packaging films and textiles with tailored end of life and performance based on bio-based copolymers and coatings

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BIOnTop (Novel packaging films and textiles with tailored end of life and performance based on bio-based copolymers and coatings)

Reporting period: 2019-06-01 to 2020-11-30

Only 31% of plastic is currently recycled and plastic packaging still have a deficient end of life. Thus, improvements are needed to provide cost effective solutions with high bio-based contents and suitable performances for demanding packaging applications, while still achieving compostability in mild conditions.
In this sense, BIOnTOP project, funded by the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 837761, aims to deliver recyclable-by-design cost competitive packaging solutions that can be mechanically recycled, industrially/home composted or even suitable for anaerobic digestion using sustainably sourced comonomers, additives and fillers to formulate novel PLA copolymers and compounds. The barrier properties of delivered bio-packaging trays, films and derived packaging, will be enhanced using removable protein-based coatings and a novel fatty acid grafting technology to decrease permeability and compete with fossil packaging. Moreover, in the field of textile packaging, most used coatings are not bio-based and of different nature from the coated fibers, making organic recycling extremely difficult, so new PLA coatings or fatty acid grafted PLA will allow reprocessing without significant loss of properties.
BIOnTop is aiming to develop packaging applications with tailored end of life that will be validated through the following seven demonstrators:
• Recyclable, home-compostable monomaterial trays & films for F&V (fruit and vegetables).
• Recyclable, multilayer trays & films compatible with MAP (modified atmosphere packaging), e.g. dairy and personal care products.
• Home compostable & organically recyclable nets for F&V.
• Home compostable & organically recyclable coated textiles.
• Recyclable, reusable coated woven fabrics, e.g. food wraps.
• Recyclable, reusable secondary packaging from SRM (secondary raw material): extruded blown bags and non-woven bags.
The specifications of the final products of the project were determined taking into account bibliography, consortium partners and end-users input as well as market requirements.
Copolymers based on lactic acid with improved home-compostability in comparison to commercial PLA have been obtained. Furthermore, formulations of bio-blends and bio-composites for the different applications of the project (film, tray and textile applications) which perform as home-compostable materials have been developed as well. These developed materials together with the investigations on plasticisers, chain extenders and fibers will lead to the final formulations for the project.
New water barrier and repellence bio-based coatings have also been developed for films, trays and textiles. These coatings show a barrier improve factor, BIF > 14.7 for oxygen and a barrier improve factor, BIF > 4.8 for water vapor in comparison to the reference non-coated PLA.
Spectroscopic analysis of the developed copolymers has been performed. The results will make possible material sorting for the products which EoL is expected to be recycling. A comprehensive biodegradation study under home composting conditions has been performed over the developed bio-based copolymers, bends, composites and coatings. First steps over LCA analysis have been performed and predictive biodegradation modelling has been carried out employing the project so far generated data.
The first stage of the stakeholder analysis has been accomplished, targeting about 200 both public and private organizations belonging to 30 different categories. A first survey on consumers perception has been drafted and disseminated to the targeted groups in order to collect information about bioplastic consumer’s perception.
BIOnTOP combines several technologies to reach modular EoL that are currently not achievable with the available materials under control waste management scenario, while still ensuring the material meets the properties required for packaging productions. BIOnTOP is improving the biodegradation of PLA based blends and copolymers in home composting conditions, allowing to apply a higher PLA content and more cost-effective products. Furthermore, novel tailor-made copolymers of bio-based diacids with lactic acid (lactide) were developed. Moreover, copolymers with different ratios of bio-based diacid to lactic acid, molecular weights, lengths of each segment and crystallinity are designed which allows breakthrough in their biodegradation behaviour in mild conditions, e.g. for home composting. In addition, the comparison of the degradability behaviour of different bio-based systems in a consistent manner will allow a systematic understanding of the effect of the structure of the EoL behaviour that is currently lacking in the literature and a contribution to biodegradation standards.
BIOnTOP is developing the novel combination of polar a bio-based oxygen barrier coating with a non-polar bio-based water vapour barrier coating to offer a barrier both against humidity and oxygen. In addition, this is expected to provide easy emptying functionality and easy product release functions which are beyond the current state of the art as non-migrating alternative to existing solutions.
BIOnTop will demonstrate the capacity for recycling all materials under study where such EoL is relevant. To tackle the different challenges related with sorting of new materials, combinations of several spectroscopic technologies are being employed. Based on the results of the biodegradation testing performed in different conditions along the formulation development data driven modelling that will account for parameters of composition, process, environmental use, thickness, etc. is being performed. Machine learning algorithms, able to process complex datasets combining deterministic and stochastic behaviours, will be used to model both biodegradation and disintegration. The resulting predictive models will be a support tool to eco-design packaging that biodegrade according to the target EoL and standard (thickness, composition, etc.). They could also be relevant for the waste management plants to predict if compostability will be met for given packaging streams using the data from the previously discussed composition monitoring system used for sorting.
Two novel processes in terms of copolymerisation and bio-based grafting will be developed. BIONTOP will mainly focus on the development of novel bio-copolymers from lactic acid/lactide and bio-based diacids in combination with a diol with tailored properties. Reactive extrusion can enhance the commercial viability and cost-competitiveness of these materials. The current TRL of these technologies is 3 and will be increased until 5. BIOnTOP project will improve the water vapour barrier properties of bio-based films and coatings by green chemical grafting with bio-based materials. This will result also in waterproofing and easy emptying behavior TRL5 of this technology will be increased to 6.
BIOnTop also aims to reduction of the environmental footprint associated with the end-of-life phase of developed packaging products by at least 30 % compared with existing products for similar applications as well as to reduction of the costs associated with the end-of-life phase of the developed packaging products by at least 30 % compared with the disposal costs for existing solutions for similar applications.
BIOnTop Developments and applications diagram
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