Extending the shelf life of food is one of the challenges of the food sector. Currently, modified atmosphere processes are used in the case of meats and fresh food, while packaging for snacks feature multilayer structures with metallized materials. The result is non-renewably sourced, virtually unrecyclable packaging.
The project Refucoat, coordinated by Spanish plastics research centre Aimplas, is aimed at developing environmentally sustainable packaging able to preserve food products in optimal conditions for longer periods. The project is pursuing the development of various potential candidate materials that - it is hoped – will ultimately be able to replace those currently used. These innovative, renewably-sourced materials will be used for the production of films and trays that are currently produced from fossil-based materials.
Specifically, the project is exploring the use of polyglycolic acid (PGA) in combination with modified silica oxide in order to formulate a hybrid coating with oxygen and water vapour barrier properties. Furthermore, a new PLA grade from corn waste will be developed, with better water vapour barrier values than commercial grades. These developments will be combined in order to create recyclable packages for chicken, cereals and snacks.
A total of 12 partners from five countries are taking part in the Refucoat project. The project itself is funded by the European Union, through the H2020-BBI-JTI-2016 program, with grant number 74591.