Valencia, Spain-based non-profit AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre, has announced it is coordinating REFUCOAT, a European project whose main objective is to develop more sustainable food packaging materials. The project will develop barrier coatings and bioplastic materials for use in films and trays as an alternative to aluminum-based structures.
Extending the shelf life of food is one of the challenges of the food sector, says AIMPLAS. Currently, modified atmosphere processes are used for meats and fresh food, and multilayer packaging structures with metallized materials are being used for snacks, resulting in products made from non-renewable sources that are very difficult to recycle.
Through REFUCOAT, AIMPLAS hopes to develop innovative material based on biopolymers that can replace those materials currently used in food packaging in the form of films and trays.
Specifically, AIMPLAS plans to combine polyglycolic acid (PGA) with modified silica oxide to formulate a hybrid coating with oxygen- and water vapor-barrier properties. Furthermore, a new PLA grade from corn wastes will be developed, with better water-vapor barrier values than commercial grades. These developments will be combined to create recyclable packages for chicken, cereals, and snacks.
REFUCOAT is made up of 12 partners from five countries and is funded by the European Union.