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Sustainable Packaging on Menu for European Consortium

Sustainable Packaging on Menu for European Consortium

Biopac, a UK bio-based and sustainable packaging design and manufacturing company, has joined the ISA-Pack international consortium to take a leading role in developing packaging that will help fight food spoilage.

With a euro 3 million ($3.7 million) grant from the European Commission, ISA-Pack has begun a three-year project to develop fully sustainable packaging for perishable food. According to estimates, food and beverages represent more than 70 percent of the global packaging market, which has an annual growth rate of more than 4 percent. The ISA-Pack project seeks to reduce retailer supply chain waste of fresh food by 75 percent.

In addition to extending the shelf life and improving the quality of fresh foods, the new packaging will be designed to reduce packaging waste. ISA-Pack will invite food processors, retailers, and consumers to help shape the program.

"The opportunity to combine the use of sustainable materials and create significant supply chain benefits in extending shelf life is a major leap forward in fresh food packaging," Biopac director Mark Brigden said in a press release.

Biopac makes food service biodegradable and recycled packaging and cleaning products, bioplastic medical disposables, and compostable mulches, films, and pots for gardeners and plant nurseries. The materials it uses include corn starch, potato starch from waste potatoes, FDA-certified recycled post-consumer waste, wild bulrush, naturally shed palm leaf sheath, sugarcane waste, and sustainably harvested wood.

We've reported before on demonstrations of compostable packaging by manufacturers such as BASF. These products include a prototype snack bag and flexible, biodegradable film used as a mulch in agriculture.

The ISA-Pack project's main goal is to develop PHB (polyhydroxybutyrate) copolymer stretch films and HB (hydroxybutyrate) copolymer MAP (modified atmosphere packaging) gas barrier sheets and films from sustainable feedstocks. In addition, ISA-Pack wants to develop an accurate, tunable, and reliable intelligent indicator system that can be printed on to packaging materials. The system will combine integrated time/temperature indicators for monitoring bacterial growth with food freshness indicators.

The consortium plans to validate its results within industrial packaging production processes, and it will undertake a full life cycle and economic assessment of the products developed through the project. The ISA-Pack research and development program is being funded by the European Commission's 7th Framework Programme, which combines research and development efforts from five countries.

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