Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Innovative biodegradable solution for food packaging waste

Every year, over one third of an estimated 45 million tonnes of food packaging waste in Europe ends up in landfills because of difficulties in recycling. An EU initiative worked on a sustainable, eco-friendly solution for food packaging coatings.
Innovative biodegradable solution for food packaging waste
The most common materials used in existing food packaging are based on petrochemicals that harm the environment and are costly. Such paper and cardboard food containers are not easily recyclable or compostable. With a European Commission directive calling for a global recycling target of 60 % for paper packaging waste by 2015, finding a cost-effective coating alternative with improved sustainability and biodegradability features becomes all the more important.

To address this need, the EU-funded PLANTPACK (Sustainable coating for food packaging based on starch and seaweed extracts) project advanced development of an innovative food packaging coating product made from seaweed and starch. It will be applied to paper and cardboard food packaging through a spray coating.

Project partners took stock of emerging research and state-of-the-art knowledge on interactions caused by seaweed extracts and starch that have been used in edible barrier coatings in food packaging. Several starch and seaweed coatings were identified and various starch-seaweed ratios were studied.

The PLANTPACK team blended seaweed extracts with starch and starch derivatives so they can be applied to paper packaging. They tested and evaluated spraying equipment and systems. A drying method was carried out on coated paper and board samples to improve the process.

Starch and seaweed-based paper and paperboard food-safe packaging with enhanced barrier properties has also been created. Recyclability and compostability studies done on the PLANTPACK solution show great promise.

A literature study led to a report that explores the solution's potential environmental and socioeconomic benefits and impacts. To determine overall performance, two new grease- and water-resistant coatings were successfully demonstrated on food packaging paper.

Ongoing work with natural and sustainable spray coatings will tackle growing environmental pressure regarding food packaging disposal. PLANTPACK outcomes should meet the demand for biodegradable packaging that is simple and economical to produce.

Related information


Food packaging, recycling, coatings, food containers, starch, seaweed extracts
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