A group of French scientists published new research on a novel biobased active packaging in the scientific peer-reviewed European Polymer Journal (Alix et al. 2013). Using wheat starch derived polymers and polycaprolactone (CAS # 24980-41-4), different types of multilayer or blended polymers were made and combined with the natural polymer chitosan (CAS # 9012-76-4). Chitosan itself has biocidal properties which make its use in active packaging, intended to extend food shelf life, interesting. The scientists examined antimicrobial effects of the newly generated food contact material, as well as its water scavenging properties. For both parameters the different materials showed satisfactory performance. Migration tests were not performed. During the production of polycaprolactone, octyltins can be used as catalysts. The migration of organotin compounds into food is controversial, due to their endocrine disrupting properties.

The use of renewable, bio-based polymers for food packaging is of interest as sustainability issues with traditional plastics are increasingly discussed controversially (Alvarez-Chavez et al. 2012).


Alix, S., et al. “Active pseudo-multilayered films from polycaprolactone and starch based matrix for food-packaging applications.” European Polymer Journal (online 11 March 2013).

Álvarez-Chávez, C. R., et al. (2012). “Sustainability of bio-based plastics: general comparative analysis and recommendations for improvement.” Journal of Cleaner Production 23(1): 47-56.