Bread4PLA: from bakery wastes to biodegradable packages

image_thumb[1]The project Bread4PLA, coordinated by AIMPLAS the Plastics Technology Centre (Valencia, Spain), has been awarded with one of the two Green Awards in the category of Environment that the European Commission has given as one of the best LIFE projects of the last 25 years
BREAD4PLA is a European project funded by the European Union LIFE+ programme whose objective is the treatment and recovery of wastes from bakery at pilot plant scale to result in new packages to be image_thumb[3]used in the same sector. Thanks to the fermentation of crusts and wastes from sliced bread and biscuits, polylactic acid (PLA) was obtained to elaborate film for new packages. This material contributes also to reduce the dependence on raw materials of fossil origin and is biodegradable, compostable and suitable to make bags and trays.
The development had the collaboration of companies such as Panrico and Grupo Siro and is especially effective to avoid the rancidity of products like cookies, where a shelf life of up to twelve months has been achieved. Besides, it has allowed to offer a high added-value application to wastes that, hitherto, were used mostly as animal feed.
In the project, other researchers have taken part from the Cereals Technology Centre (CETECE) (Spain), the Leibniz-Institut für Agrartechnik Pstdam-Bornim ATB (Germany) and the Biocomposites Centre of the Bangor University (UK).

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MeetingPack 2015: innovations in food packaging

A transparent plastic can for canned food, oxygen absorbers that increase the food shelf-life and bags to pack wine or oil are some of the innovations lunched during MeetingPack2015, the packaging conference held in Valencia from 25th to 26th of February.

image_thumbKortec has launched a transparent plastic can that can be used for packaging food that used to be packaged in metallic cans. They permit to keep the food shelf-life up to five years.

Absorbers

In Europe 95 kg of food are wasted per person per year, five times more than in Japan. One option for increasing the shelf-life of sensible-to-oxygen-action packaged food is through the incorporation of oxygen scavengers, as Mitsubishi has done, capable to remove the remaining oxygen from inside the packages, in order to avoid the oxidation reactions that damage food and increase the shelf-life in a healthier way. The oxygen scavengers can be included as extern agents to the package, as labels or little bags inside. This kind of technology is really used in Japan because of its oxidation prevention qualities, changes of food colour, but it is not so extended in Europe. One of the advantages of oxygen scavengers is that they do not need additional industrial equipment to use these technologies. It also prevents the oxidation of oils and fat, so a better preservation of the nutritional qualities of the food is obtained.

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More heat-resistant PLA

The packaging industry is increasingly using biopolymers made from polylactides (PLAs) as an alternative to petroleum-based plastic. They are obtained from corn starch and completely biodegradable. Previously, however, PLA began to soften at about 60 ºC, so it was not suitable for heat-intensive processes. But now, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam have found a way to make this bioplastic even more heat-resistant. An interesting application comes from the food industry: The filling of yogurt in plastic cups, because this process takes place at higher temperatures. Cups made of PLA stereo complexes retain their shape and remain stable even at temperatures of up to 120 ºC. Dr. Johannes Ganster, division director at IAP, explains the principle behind this: “To make PLA plastics more form-stable at higher temperatures, we introduced stereo complexes with special components of L-lactides and D-lactides. These right-and-left rotating molecules complement each other and make the bond even more stable.”

Corporations have already expressed interest, considering the potential. Production of biopolymers made of PLA is independent of the growing scarcity of petroleum. In addition, they can be readily composted, and they are ideal for recycling by decomposition in lactic acid. The greatest advantage is that they have since become just as durable and sturdy as any petroleum-based plastic, and can even be used for other products, such as protective films, computer housing and shopping bags. IAP is already working closely with a German factory builder that intends to incorporate the new process into its business operations soon.

Coke in a bag

Coca-Cola in a bag? Not so fast…
In Brazil, El Salvador and other Latin American countries, some people ask te vendors to open the glass bottle and pour the Coke to a plastic bag. It’s not a real alternative to the "classic" Coca-Cola bottle, but  just a way to avoid the deposit on the returnable glass bottle.
Then, the Coca-Cola Company decided to launch its own bags, in order to keep the brand visible. The bags have the coke bottle shape and the coke logo printed. And the plastic is biodegradable, says the company.
To sell and serve a Coca-Cola, now two packages are used (the bottle and the bag), instead of just one…

 

Improved heat-resistant PLA

image_thumbAt the NPE 2012 Purac will present solutions for improved heat-resistant PLA for injection molding, extrusion and fiber industry. PLA homo polymers known as PLLA and PDLA which stand at the base of this improved heat performance are now commercially available. "Our technology offers the unique possibility to increase the heat-stability of PLA to reach 80 – 150 degrees Celsius" – says Purac. PLA homo polymers can be used to develop a range of heat-resistant PLA products for plastics, films, fibers and foam applications.
Purac (Gorinchem, The Netherlands) is a leading company in lactic acid based bioplastics and the worldwide market leader in lactic acid, lactic acid derivatives and lactides, with production plants in the USA, the Netherlands, Spain, Brazil and Thailand.

Danone wins bioplastics award

image_thumb[1]Bioplastics are moving from niche market products to mass market products. The 6th Bioplastics Award, went to Danone GmbH, the german branch of the multinational brand owner, for its  introduction of Activia and Actimel in PLA and "green HDPE" (the sugar cane based PE from Braskem, Brazil). Awarded by Bioplastics Magazine, the Bioplastics Award was decided by a panel of 5 judges from academia, press and trade associations. 
Today, mimage_thumb[3]ore than half of the Danone products in the German market are packaged in bioplastics. Altough the environmental merits of bioplastics, these move to FMCG is causing converns and controversy. Without sorting, te new biodegradable plastics will be mixed with regular plastics and turn recycling of other plastic packaging very difficult or even impossible.

Flexible, transparent and bio

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FKuR has launched a new transparent, flexible biopolymer. Called Bio-Flex® F 2201 CL this material contains a high content of renewable resources and, in line with the other resins in the Bio-Flex® family, can be processed easily on standard LDPE blown film lines and converting equipment. Its mechanical properties exhibit a high elongation and flexibility along with good puncture resistance. Consequently Bio-Flex® F 2201 CL can ideally be used to adjust the properties of all the available Bio-Flex® family resins. However, due to its good interply strength, Bio-Flex® F 2201 CL is recommended to be used as a mid-layer in a co-extruded structure. As a result of its mechanical properties it is the perfect partner for Bio-Flex® A 4100 CL in a transparent 3-layer combination. Bio-Flex® A 4100 CL is a clear but stiff material with properties comparable to PP.

The combination of these two transparent grades offers unmatched clarity for a biodegradable blown film available today while maintaining a very high content of renewable resource material. This is between 60 – 80% depending on the variation of polymers of the final structure. As both polymers are clear, the transparency of a 20µm film, for example, is close to 91% (light transmission figure). The toughness and high tear resistance are the result of the core Bio-Flex® F 2201 CL layer and the renewable content of a 20 micron 3-layer structure with a layer ratio of 20 / 60 / 20 (%) is around 70%. Using such a structure, this film is ideal for VFFS applications.