The Technological Institute of Plastic (AIMPLAS) coordinates other nine companies and technological centers which work on the European project BIO4MAP in order to develop a new transparent, multilayer, barrier, totally biodegradable and recyclable package for fresh food and different kinds of cheeses that require a Modified Atmosphere Packaging. Among the partners of this project, it is highlighted the inter-supplier of Mercadona Central Quesera Montesinos, a potential and user company of the new packages for its cheesecake.
Similarly, Spanish companies participate also in the project, such as Vallés Plàstic, which will be the responsible for applying a new coating made of natural waxes in order to achieve the needed humidity barrier, and therefore, to maintain the lifespan of packaged food. Artibal, a manufacturer of waxes, lacquers and inks, also participates in the project and it is the responsible of the formulation of this water barrier coating. Other companies that will package their products with the new packages developed in this project are: the Belgian company Altoni-Kelderman -manufacturer of fresh pasta- , and the German one Sachsenmilch, which will package slices of cheese.
In addition, the manufacturer PLA Hycail – which is going to develop a biodegradable adhesive suitable for being processed through co-extrusion technologies- , the Finish investigation center Abo Akademi, the French company transformer and manufacturer of packages Bobino Plastique, and the German technogical center Fraunhofer IVV – which is focus on the development of waxes used to the coating – participate also in this project.
“The function of AIMPLAS in this project, besides of complying with the tasks as coordinator of the project, is focused on the development of biodegradable and barrier material necessary to fulfill the final requirements of the food to be packaged, and it is the responsible for processing the new materials which are being developed to obtain the new multilayer package”, Nuria López explains, the main researcher of the project in AIMPLAS.
R+D in all the layers at least two types of thermoplastic and biodegradables materials will be combined in the design of the new package, mainly the polylactic acid (PLA) and polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH). The first one has excellent mechanical properties and high transparency, and the second one has high barrier to gases and is also water-soluble, which allows the package to be recyclable and biodegradable.
In order to raise the barrier effect against the water vapor of both materials, a biodegradable coating made of natural waxes from agricultural wastes will be applied and it will cover the external layer of the multilayer package. Linked by a new generation of biodegradable adhesives which will be also developed during the project, the different layers of the package ensure the consumer that they will extend the lifespan of food, at least in the same way that the packages manufactured with traditional materials.
However, there is a difference between them: new packages will be manufactured with, at least, 75% of raw materials from renewable sources, so they will be biodegradable. BIO4MAP project is funded by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme, managed by REA-Research Executive Agency (FP7/2007-2013) under Grant Agreement n° 606144 (BIO4MAP). This project will last 30 month and has a budget of 1,5 million euro.