24. Sep 2019

K 2019 news: Fraunhofer IWKS to display new biodegradable food packaging

At the upcoming K show, applications using a new polymer made from waste food residues will be on display. Not just biobased, the material is biodegradable and suitable for food packaging.

sMultilayer plastic packaging is commonly used for packaging food items because of the benefits it confers in terms of hygiene requirements, long shelf life and the easy availability of products. Yet, at the end of life, that same packaging becomes a major contributor to the mountain of plastic waste, with as risk leakage into the environment. The reason: the layers are unable to be separated, making this type of packaging impossible to recycle.

BIodegradable bioplastics as a sustainable alternative have been on the market for several decades. However, they are more expensive and offer properties that still lag behind those of conventional plastics, thus hampering their broad application.

Fraunhofer IWKS has taken up the challenge and has developed a new polymer raw material that increases the protective effect of plastic packaging without impairing its recycling or compost properties. It can be combined with both conventional and compostable packaging materials. Instead of using crude oil or biobased raw materials from corn or sugar cane, the researchers obtain their raw materials from large by-product streams in the food industry – in this case, apple pomace. The apple pomace is extracted into a hemicellulose product that is suitable for a wide variety of applications thanks to its branched polymer structures: from coatings that screen oxygen and water vapor, for films, trays and bottles made of plastics and natural waxes, to coating and paint systems as well as paper additives or cosmetic articles in which the polymer product can be used to increase tensile strength or adjust flowability and stabilize dispersions and emulsions. The advantage: The raw material is bio-based and biodegradable, does not compete with the food industry, is available in sufficient quantities and can be purchased as a by-product at low cost. The fact that the branched polymer structures can be chemically modified economically and in a variety of ways is fundamental for their application in various material systems.
The product was developed within the scope of the EU-funded HyperBioCoat project, and successfully tested on demonstrators for food and cosmetic packaging.
Fraunhofer IWKS will deliver a presentation on the project during K 2019, for those interested in finding out more about the project and the use of hemicellulose as a sustainable polymer raw material.
This will take place on Wednesday, October 16, 2019, at 03:30 pm, in Conference Room 19b, Hall 1, K 2019, Messe Düsseldorf
Please register at presse@iwks.fraunhofer.de in advance.

Image: Functional materials made from apple pomace. The image shows the pomace after the extraction.
Copryright: Fraunhofer IWKS

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