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Issue 06/2016

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  • Bioplastics
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Films/Flexibles/Bags New

Films/Flexibles/Bags New barrier packaging for cheese and pasta products AIMPLAS acted as the coordinator of a European project that developed multilayer biodegradable and recyclable cheese and fresh pasta packaging comprised of over 75 % biobased content that offers a shelf life at least equal to that of conventional packaging. Technical development The new packaging is composed of a combination of thermoplastic, biodegradable materials, like polylactic acid (PLA) and polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH). PLA has excellent mechanical properties and is highly transparent. Tailor-made PVOH has a high oxygen barrier and is soluble in water, which allows the packaging to be recycled. In order to increase the barrier effect against water vapour, the outside of the multilayer packaging is coated with a biodegradable coating made of natural waxes from agricultural wastes. Also, a new biodegradable adhesive was developed in the course of the project. The different layers of the new packaging were shown to offer the same shelf life as traditional packaging, in the three food case studies selected. However, the difference is that the new packages are produced from 75 % raw materials from renewable sources. They are also biodegradable and easily recyclable. Role of the partners Ten companies and technological centres were involved in this European project. Next to acting as project coordinator, Aimplas (Spain) was also involved in the development of the PVOH grade required. This is a biodegradable and oxygen barrier material needed to fulfil the requirements of each food selected. Aimplas was also involved in the processing of the new multilayer packaging using the materials developed (PVOH and tie layer). The French compounding company Mapea developed a new biodegradable adhesive suitable for use in co-extrusion technologies, with the support of the Finnish research centre Abo Akademi. The French company Bobino Plastique was responsible for processing the developed materials to obtain the multilayer structure to be used to get the final packages. Artibal, a Spanish manufacturer of waxes, lacquers and inks, worked on the formulation of a water-barrier coating, with the support of the German technical centre Fraunhofer IVV. The Spanish company Vallés Plàstic was responsible for applying the new coating made from natural waxes, to achieve the humidity barrier needed to maintain the shelf life of the packaged food. The companies responsible for the validation of the products packaged in the newly developed packaging were: • Central Quesera Montesinos, a Spanish cheese producer, using the new packages for their goat cheese; • The Belgian company Altoni-Kelderman, a manufacturer of fresh pasta; • The German company Sachsenmilch, a supplier of packaged slices of cheese. Fig. 1 Industrial sheet obtained in the project BIO4MAP 14 bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/16] Vol. 11

Films/Flexibles/Bags Fig. 2 Wax coating development By: Nuria López Aznar Extrusion department researcher AIMPLAS plastic technology centre Valencia (Spain) Industrial scale-up The new materials and their process conditions were subsequently been optimized for industrial scale processing. Aimplas produced the PVOH required and Mapea successfully developed the tie layer needed for the industrial multilayer process. Both materials were used at the Bobino facilities to produce the multilayer sheet (fig. 1). The wax coating with water barrier properties developed by Artibal was applied at the Vallés Plàstic facilities (fig. 2). The sheets thus obtained were thermoformed to be used as food packaging. The industrial packages for the products made by Montesinos, Altoni Kelderman and Sachsenmilch are shown in fig. 3. Results: • Development of low-cost PVOH for co-extrusion purposes with good gas barrier properties. • Development of a biodegradable tie layer compatible with PLA and PVOH suitable for co-extrusion technologies. • Production of a wax coating for improved water vapour barrier. • Suitable mechanical properties for final applications. • The packages have a high transparency. • The packaging fulfils the barrier requirements defined (2 cm 3 /(tray·day·bar): the oxygen gas transmission of the final packaging was 0.022 cm 3 /(tray·day·bar) and the water vapour transmission was 1.39 g/(m 2·d). • The global migration value* was 2.2 mg/dm 2 , below the maximum level allowed (10 mg/dm 2 ). *: The overall migration test was performed with two alternative oil simulants: D2 alternative: Iso-octane and D2 alternative: Ethanol 95% • Comparative studies were performed between the traditional packaging and the BIO4MAP version, to study the microbiological growth and the organoleptic properties. • According to the compostability and biodegradability test, the new packaging complies with the standard EN 13432. • The new packaging is fully recyclable. • The total carbon footprint of BIO4MAP packages is about 29 % lower than that of conventional packages (end of life scenario incineration with or without energy recovery for both versions). • The new packages are cost competitive. Optimizing the total thickness of the packaging and each layer to adjust the requirements to the materials cost, can yield a reduction of up to 25 % of the final cost. • All the materials and additives used are food contact approved and comply with regulatory and safety issues. References: [1] The research leading to these results received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme [FP7/2007-2013] under grant agreement no 606144 (BIO4MAP). Fig. 3 Food packages developed in the project BIO4MAP bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/16] Vol. 11 15

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