Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

New technologies for food packaging

Packaging plays a vital role in any modern integrated product supply system, protecting product integrity and quality for the consumer. There is now a new, EU-funded technology for improved plastic food packaging that is also more environmentally friendly.
New technologies for food packaging
Demanding food packaging applications make use of multi-layer plastics, such as for pre-cooked meals, cheese, ice cream, patisserie and many non-food items. Such multi-layer packaging is mainly made by a complex two-step process: co-extrusion followed by thermoforming.

This production technology, carried out mainly by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), presents several problems. Some synthetic polymers used in co-extrusion are expensive, chemically incompatible with other layers and cannot be recycled. Production waste is around 10 %. The thermoforming process is complex and produces 40 % waste.

To offer solutions, the COBAPACK project developed multi-layer plastics containing destructurised starch, which allows for 100 % recycling. In addition, it developed a one-step co-injection process that reduces scrap, uses less energy, has high production rates, and produces packaging with higher precision and tolerances.

The new technology developed in the project promises to have a significant impact on the plastics industry, improving the current plastic food packaging alternatives and offering a new range of environmentally friendly packages. The technology, with its flexibility in forming different shapes, means that it can also be applied to packaging sectors other than food, such as cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. This opens up new areas of business for European SMEs in the packaging value chain while adding to their competitiveness.

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