Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Advances in the safe use of recycled materials for food packaging

An EU initiative introduced new multilayer packages for food contact applications.
Advances in the safe use of recycled materials for food packaging
Despite EU regulations on food contact materials, there are still many limitations for using recycled plastic in food contact applications as only authorised recyclers are allowed to provide these materials. Limitations in obtaining authorised recycled materials from neighbouring providers could lead to the use of non-authorised recycled plastic and resulting safety risks. Moreover, the European packaging industry and recyclers face tough competition from emerging countries.

To address these issues, the EU-funded BANUS (Definition and development of functional barriers for the use of recycled materials in multilayer food packaging) project developed new multilayer structures for food packaging applications.

Project partners used conventional polymers in order to evaluate several packaging properties as functional barriers – plastic layers that prevent migration of chemicals released by plastic or paper to packaged foods. They focused on three case studies that represent the most important segments in the total packaging market value: semi-rigid multilayer plastic packaging; flexible multilayer multi-material packaging; and coated paperboard packaging. All three cases were based on various materials, processed by different technologies and used for diverse applications.

The BANUS team tested the performance and suitability of the developed functional barriers positioned between recycled layers and foodstuffs in order to prevent any migration of contaminants to food. It substituted a percentage of virgin material with recycled paper or plastic materials in the three selected structures. This was done to develop more environment-friendly food packaging structures.

BANUS achieved progress beyond the state of the art in technologies and materials to develop new multilayer packages with functional barrier properties for food contact applications that include recycled materials.

The proposed use of conventional polymers that are more eco and cost efficient than their standard counterparts will lead to new functionalities. This should open up new potential markets for traditional recycling companies in Europe while ensuring food safety for consumers. An informative video can be accessed from the front page of the website.

Related information

Keywords

Recycled materials, food packaging, recycled plastic, BANUS, functional barriers
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