Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


GREEN PACK Report Summary

Project ID: 605698
Funded under: FP7-SME
Country: Spain

Periodic Report Summary 1 - GREEN PACK (Fully recyclable 100% PET package for food contact with O2 barrier, improved transparency and low CO2 footprint.)

Project Context and Objectives:
Although PET packaging solutions currently on the market fully satisfy the required performances, with respect to each single application, there is still a lack of these performances to be bridged respect to the basic need of the PET trays recycling. The main drawbacks of the current solutions for the PET trays manufacturing are due essentially to the presence of different plastic materials in the packages. In other terms, they are manufactured by sticking different layers of different plastic materials, PET included.
The multi-material feature poses severe limitations, and sometimes the impossibility, to the effective recycling of manufacturing scraps and of the trays at the end of their life. This is a dramatic reality for the economic and social development of EU because of the involved loss of raw materials, CO2 footprint, and landfill management. From a theoretical point of view, the goal of having a fully recyclable PET container for food packaging is surely feasible. The environmental effect would be very positive: the manufacture of each ton of PET produces around 3 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).
Nevertheless, this result is far from being obtained because of the absence of a proper combination of innovative technical solutions and systematic studies.
The GREENPACK project arose with the purpose to accomplish two main objectives:
➢ First and main objective of the GREENPACK Consortium is producing prototypes of fully recyclable 100% PET trays for food preservation also by using recycled PET (RPET). PET trays will be designed for low-oxygen application and barrier properties will be based on specifically designed additives. The target is a mono-material fully-transparent tray which could be recycled for producing new trays.
➢ A secondary goal of the project is designing and dissemination of a dedicated recycling model, inspired towards the replication and spreading of the recycling model of the 100% PET soft drink bottles, in the post-consumer phase, adapting its characteristics to the specific food package features. The recycling model will focus on the management of a "cradle to cradle" loop, from and to the starting manufacturing process, promoting the reduction of manufacturing costs and the carbon foot-print of PET packaging for food.

Project Results:
The Research and innovation entire project activities consist of three main implementation phases (refer to the figure 2 of the file attached):
A. Definition of requirements and specifications
B. Lab research and implementation of the solution (Product Development)
C. Industrial validation and uptake of the results
The following section provides a brief description of the main activities performed during the first period of the project (M1-M15) divided for each Work Package started within the first fifteen months (WP1, WP2, WP3, WP7), except for the WP8 – Project Management that has a dedicated section within the Report.

The WP1 was mainly dedicated to the studies and identification of the main application scenarios as well as the identification of the user and system requirements, which have been performed in order to define the exact specifications of the product and the architecture of the system production prototype.
To identify the scenarios, a data gathering from AGs and SMEs has been realized. In particular, using a specific questionnaire for each AG in respect to the field of their associated factories while a technical questionnaire for the SMEs has been made also to collect the user requirements for the Green Pack project. Two final application scenarios have been individuated, Food packaging production and Recycling chain, one for each different objective of the project. These two scenarios are strictly linked to the competences of the SME partners and the interests showed by the AGs’ members.
In the case of SMEs, partners of the project, technical interviews were preferred for data-gathering instead of a further questionnaire. This choice was made because of the limited number of the partners (only 2) and their different competences.
Starting from interviews with SMEs, the final user requirements have been identified for both scenarios. Particularly, in the case of “Food packaging production”, it was a very difficult task, which has been simplified by identifying some benchmarks from the market.
An overview of plastics and environmental sustainability as well as information on plastics packaging have been provided by BPF partner, while a preliminary information on the PET market in Hungary have been provided by HAEE. In addition, an analysis of the existing patents has been made in order to deepen the state-of-art about active barriers for food packaging. The number of patents has been limited to 100 and the “date of filing” has been considered as a key factor for driving the search.
In addition, the information necessary to start research activities on active barrier solutions has been acquired and a first shape and structure for the container prototypes has been indicated and representing the first step for the definition of their conceptual design.
Performances from commercial products have been measured and the substitution of these products with active barrier 100% PET containers seem to be feasible, if a proper material/additive combination would be made.
In the end, during the WP1, a good agreement has been found in the technical activities in collaboration between SMEs and RTD Performers. This situation is very promising for the success of the research activities.

Work performed under WP2 – PRODUCT CONCEPTUAL DESIGN
WP2 deals with planning and design the GREENPACK products starting from the outputs of the WP1. Costs, environmental issues, performances and easiness of use have been considered to define a sustainable processing technology. Moreover, the structure of multi-layered sheets and the first prototypes of active barrier mono-layer sheets have been successfully achieved. Properties of virgin PET sheets and RPET have been evaluated for their use in the final multi-layer sheet.
The main experimentation has been made in Laboratory to reduce time and material loss during testing (in fact small batches are easily produced in laboratory and quickly tested) but important contributes have been given by SMEs as well. Technical solutions, already partially experimented by SMEs, have been preferred because of their semi-industrial state such as the patent by Point Plastic , also mentioned as background in the DoW. Indeed, a first valuable solution has been found to produce multi-layer PET sheets with oxygen-active barrier properties by using Point Plastic formulation since lab tests have shown that this formulation is already able to meet all the requirements of the projects.
Tests were performed on Lab-made samples by means of an experimental procedure opportunely defined, and on semi-industrial prototypes (both pellets and mono-layer sheets). Particularly, tests on PET mono-layer sheets with RPET and active barrier have shown optimal performances in terms of oxygen barrier and structural behaviour.
OTR values could be furtherly improved by using the proposed innovation by UNITV. By integrating coating technologies and compounding step, it would be possible to insert small amounts of nano-sized aluminium particles in the active mixture. This idea has been already used in other projects to solve the problem of nano-particle exfoliation and it is under patenting for structural and functional applications. However, within food application is not yet patented and this could be a valuable opportunity for the project. Further experimentations on this technology will be performed by using the final plant since the clear limitations of Lab-made prototypes.
In order to highlight the success expectation of GREENPACK project, the table reported in the DoW (Table 1 at page 12 of part B) about “project success indicators”, can be used as reference.
Regarding the first two prototypes of trays analyzed, mandatory to be made, (1. Size 260x220x18, sheet thickness 350 µm; 2. Size 250x180x30, sheet thickness 600 µm), expected scores are all at the maximum levels, according to measured values on mono-layer PET sheets with active barrier behavior.

Work performed under WP3 – LAB SCALE EXTRUSION LINE
Starting from the final definition of the product conceptual design, the WP3 will deal with designing of the architecture of the final plant as well as the selection and procurement of all plant components. The final prototype will be developed, customized and installed to allow the experimentation in PLASTIC facilities as also reported in the Dow.
As the WP was started at the end stage of the first period (M10), the work is still in progress and will be mainly developed in the second period of the project, considering also that the plant architecture needs to be finalized together with the product concept finalization. However, a preliminary flow chart has been implemented on the basis of the WP2 outputs and considering the expected WP3 results as well.
Finally, some basic components, such as the extruders, have been selected for a preliminary evaluation on the basis of a balance between the expected budget and the machine properties needed for accomplishing the project objectives.

The WP7 runs for the entire project lifecycle and the focus of the activities performed within this work package are addressed to the full utilization of the results to obtain system's introduction during and after the end of the project.
The main objectives achieved in the Period 1 are:
• the design and implementation of GREENPACK logo and website, which will be updated periodically during the whole project by the dissemination leader (HAEE);
• design and creation of the main dissemination tools such as flyers, posters (in three different languages) and roll up;
• implementation of the first version of the press release for the further launch of the project during the second period;
• implementation of the dissemination plan, created and validated by the Consortium to properly coordinate the communication and promotional activities to be carried out during project
• the event planned and carried out during the Period 1 (M1-M15) have been listed and fully accomplished by the partners and the list of the expected activities for the second period (M16-M36) has been reported within the Initial Plan for using and disseminating knowledge.
• development of the preliminary version of the GREENPACK exploitation plan, characterizing the exploitable results of the project and giving information about IPRs background and foreground as well as the exploitation claims.

Potential Impact:
The project develops knowledge on the active barrier, and the best solution of the final sheet structure and the chemical substances typically used for oxygen scavenging. A typical example is the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). It is an excellent oxygen scavenger for dry foods. The main problem of this technology is that during the reaction between these polyunsaturated molecules and oxygen, by-products such as organic acids, aldehydes, or ketones can be generated that affect the sensory quality of the food or raise food regulatory issues. Another typical application for fluids is given by the ascorbic acid.
In the case of PET, oxygen scavengers are often made by a mixture of an organic oxygen scavenger and a catalyzer. As catalyzer, a transition metal is selected such as cobalt 2-ethylhexanoate, cobalt oleate, cobalt neodecanoate, cobalt 2-ethylhexanoate, cobalt acetate, cobalt stearate, and cobalt benzoate. As oxygen scavenger, polyether can be selected but a small contamination of PET has to be accepted. After the evaluation the partners decided to select 2 virgin PET formulations for the experimentation, up to 4 PET flake formulations, and up to 3 oxygen scavenging solutions (including the patent from PLASTIC).
The major outputs and results of the project will be exploited by the participant SME-AGs on the following markets:
• PET additives
• PET film production
• PET packaging production
• PET recycling

The first project phase concentrated on the feasibility of the fully recyclable 100% PET package for food contact with O2 barrier, whilst the main purpose of the second phase of the project is to work out the formulations and realise the pilot site for demonstration.
Here below, the main 10 steps to reach the solution for the GREENPACK project are listed:
1. The use of an additive to have oxygen barrier properties of the PET
2. The definition of a multi-layered structure for the packaging sheets, using a single base material (PET, virgin and recycled, RPET)
3. The development of a laboratory scale extrusion line for the production of prototypes of food containers
4. The study of the barrier properties of the final RPET sheets
5. The study of the fabrication effect for additivated RPET sheets (mainly on the aesthetics and other functional properties)
6. The study of the processability of the multi-layered mono-material sheets
7. The study of the combination with virgin PET for the film in contact with the food
8. The shelf life assessment of the new PET container
9. The definition of a recycling strategy for the final container
10. The LCA (Life Cycle Assessment).

The benefits that the AGs and SMEs participants will gain are strictly related to 4 project results expected from the implementation of the scientific and technical activities planned:
1) G-PET additives formulation
2) G-PET film production process
3) G-PET tray production process
4) Plant prototype for the G-PET production

The main project goal aims to push a substitution on food packaging from multilayer films to G-PET films. The impact of reaching this goal will be the generation of business opportunities for all the AGs and SMEs proposers.
At the end of the project the SMEs, members of the Associations participating in the project and the Other participants SMEs, will have the opportunity to enter a new market segment by introducing a new PET recycling packaging for food contact with enhanced technological features. This will grant them a sustainable economic growth as suppliers in the production and recycling framework.
The project GREENPACK will be able to assign to each of the proposers the competitive advantage in their respective markets and institutional goals, by giving them the possibility to act as first mover.

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