On January 7, 2021, the plastic research and technology center AIMPLAS reported on the results of a Horizon 2020 Project. Three packaging materials have been developed that aim to reduce both food and packaging waste, specifically, for fresh chicken meat, cereals, and snacks.
The AIMPLAS writes that plastic packaging plays an important role in reducing food loss and wastage due to its superior physical properties (gas barrier, versatility, lightness, ease of handling, and strength). However, to protect food, plastic often requires complex multilayer structures. Many plastic packaging designs rely on use of films that are either difficult or costly to recycle. To reduce the negative impacts of plastic waste, the European Union’s 2018 plastics strategy determined that all packaging must be recyclable by 2030 (FPF reported).
The outcomes of REFUCOAT have been, among others, an active coating for food packaging films that use bacteriophage organisms to extend the shelf life of food products and provide a significant reduction in the proliferation of Salmonella in chicken breast samples. Furthermore, the project also focused on finding a more resource and energy saving production of two compostable plastics, polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) and polyglycolide (PGA) (CAS 26124-68-5).
Lorena Rodríguez Garrido, a Packaging Researcher at AIMPLAS, and the scientific coordinator of REFUCOAT, said:
“Packaging must be recyclable and must also maintain the barrier properties that help protect packaged food. Current packaging has a complex multilayer structure and is made from non-renewable sources. It provides all the protective functions but is difficult and expensive to recycle. REFUCOAT aims to replace current packaging with more sustainable, better-performing alternatives.”
The REFUCOAT project also held two interactive webinars last year to inform about the results and lessons learned from the three-year collaboration (FPF reported).
AIMPLAS (January 7, 2021). “European REFUCOAT Project develops recyclable food packaging and new active packaging systems against Salmonella.”
Karen Laird (January 4, 2021). “Innovative, bio-based active packaging systems tackle food waste problem.” Sustainable Plastics