European Refucoat Project develops novel food packaging
Of the packaging technologies that extend the shelf life of food, plastic materials are the most commonly used because of their versatility, lightness, ease of handling and strength, which make them uniquely suitable for food packaging. However, the European Union’s 2018 plastics strategy determined that all packaging must be recyclable by 2030. Meanwhile, also consumers’ increased environmental awareness has made it necessary to continue with research to obtain more sustainable packaging.
Within this context, the European Refucoat Project developed sustainable active packaging solutions to address the challenge set by the European Union for 2030 by doing research on packaging solutions that could positively impact the reduction of food waste. Specifically, innovative, efficient bioplastic production processes were developed to package food using renewable materials that are also recyclable and could replace conventional fossil-fuel-based materials. These bioplastics include polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) and polyglycolide (PGA), which were used to develop three different bio-based active packaging systems, specifically designed to package fresh chicken meat, cereals and snacks.
Additionally, one of project’s greatest innovations was the formulation of bacteriophage-based coatings that considerably reduce the proliferation of Salmonella bacteria in chicken breast samples packaged in a modified atmosphere. The project successfully addressed one of the problems faced by packaging with barrier properties: in order to protect food, packaging must be made up of complex multilayer structures that are either difficult or costly to recycle. However, all the packaging systems developed by the Refucoat Project can be recycled and/or converted into compost, which makes them a very promising sustainable alternative to current packaging on the market.
More information on the Refucoat-Website.