Food requires optimal preservation by a packaging that maintains quality and safety. These two aspects are taken for granted by the consumer when food is purchased, any food packaging material must always fulfill these two requirements: a) high thermal stability (quality) and b) high barrier properties (safety). Besides, environmental awareness is nowadays creating a strong demand for more renewable and sustainable packaging materials that show equal or better performance than petrochemical plastics at a competitive price.
TheEuroPHA project seeks to develop 100% natural and biodegradable bioplastic formulations for food packaging applications based on PHA.
Bioplastics like PHA are long-term sustainable alternatives because they can show equal performance to conventional petrochemical plastics, originate from renewable non-food resources and are 100% bio-degradable. Although PHA shows better performance than alternative bioplastics (PLA and starch), the market uptake of PHA bioplasticsat the moment shows the following obstacles:
1. PHA is expensive, much higher than starch plastics and other bio-based polyesters. This is caused by three facts in the production process: High raw material costs; expensive PHA extraction to ensure high quality; small production volumes.
2. Small market share of European PHA (dominated by China and US) that limits the potential of a European Bioeconomy.
In order to will overcome these obstacles and establish a competitive PHA production capacity in Europe,EuroPHAhas the following objectives:
- Reduction of PHA production costs: using low-value feedstock (agro-food waste/surplus streams) as starting material in three-phase biological synthesis of PHA by mixed microbial culture;
- Environmentally friendly & cost-effective PHA extraction step;
- Novel formulations of PHA for 100% complete and short-time biodegradability packaging bioplastics by current industrial technology: monolayer film and extrusion foam for food packaging.
EuroPHA aims at a 40% reduction of final price enabling the increase of European PHA global market sharefor food packaging applications.