22. Sep 2017

Biodegradable flexible multilayer structures for medium-barrier food packaging

The RECUBIO project, led by Plásticos Romero, has enabled the development medium-barrier biodegradable PLA-based packages for the food sector from complex structures.

Plásticos Romero, a Spain-based manufacturer of blown film, collaborated with AIMPLAS, a Plastics Technology Centre located in Valencia, Spain, on a project aimed at the production of sustainable packaging from complex structures. This project, called RECUBIO, ran for a period of 18 months and was funded by Spanish National Program for R&D Activities, CDTI (Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial).

Multilayer packaging offers a host of advantages in terms of mechanical properties, sealability, gas barrier properties, as well as the packaging process, from which the packaged products benefit. In 2015, more than 440,000 tons of flexible plastic packages were used in Spain, according to the Spanish Statistical Office, the equivalent of a turnover of about one million euros.

The problem is that this complex film is obtained by means of lamination processes with adhesives of different plastic films, so it is a mixture of materials with different origin, which is virtually impossible to recycle. Fortunately, over the past several years, interest in biodegradable materials in the packaging sector has grown. These materials can provide an alternative and sustainable end of life. Within the scope of the Recubio project, Plásticos Romero, worked to develop a sustainable alternative which is technically feasible and to find a solution for the current main limitation of biodegradable materials: the oxygen and water vapour barrier properties.

In the RECUBIO project, a coating technology was applied to address this issue. A coating was applied to a biodegradable film to give it the required barrier properties. The final complex structure is formed by this coated film that, was subsequently laminated with a three-layer structure providing rigidity and sealability to the final packaging, as well as protection to the barrier coating.

The result is a complex final structure suitable for food packaging requiring medium barrier properties, such as bakery, fresh or frozen products.


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