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FP6

SUSTAINPACK — Result In Brief

Project ID: 500311
Funded under: FP6-NMP
Country: Sweden

Green packaging gets smart

The latest advances in product packaging technology may not only make it more eco-friendly, but can also help tag products, combat theft and minimise counterfeiting.
Green packaging gets smart
Non-biodegradable packaging such as plastic has been littering our landfills and planet for decades, choking ecosystems and degrading the environment. In an urgent move to develop eco-friendly packaging, the EU-funded project 'Innovation and sustainable development in the fibre based packaging value chain' (Sustainpack) exploited the latest nanotechnology in order to achieve this objective.

The project, considered the most important one in this field to date, looked at how to increase competitiveness of fibre-based packaging in order to reduce supply chain costs. It gathered 35 prominent partners from 13 countries, including academics, industry players and packaging research organisations to support the development of high-tech solutions and improve the material's functionality.

One major achievement involved printing information directly onto packaging to make tagging and labelling more cost effective, coupling this with applications that involve radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. In more detail, the project team developed technology to integrate barcodes, humidity monitors and temperature monitors into the packaging, paving the way for use of nanofibres in a wider range of shapes for packaging.

Intensive interviews with key managers from over 100 technology providers and packaging experts helped map upcoming demand, identifying packaging priorities such as tracking, anti-theft, brand enhancement, food quality and anti-counterfeiting. Food production stakeholders and retailers appreciated packaging features such as temperature, time and freshness indicators, as well as RFID tagging and electronic article surveillance (EAS) capabilities.

Sustainpack has laid the groundwork for commercialising the technology in many sectors and has helped encourage research in the field. Once development and exploitation are underway, consumers may finally see eco-friendly packaging and our landfills might be able to breathe again.

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