The EU program LIFE+ is funded through the four-year RenewPACK project.
The objective is to demonstrate the suitability of a new patented material, ‘Xylophane’, as a barrier material in food packaging and to explore its advantages over existing materials.
The material is made from the natural polymer, xylan, which is created from waste products from agriculture such as grain husks.
Xylophane said its renewable barrier material is an environmentally-friendly alternative to aluminium foil and oil-based plastics.
By adding a thin layer of the material to paper or cardboard it is possible to obtain barrier properties against oxygen, fat, mineral oils and other volatile organic contaminants.
Xylophane can be used for the packaging of dry soups and sauces, fat products such as pet food, or cereals and pasta that are packaged in cardboard packaging made from recycled fibres.
The funding will enable the construction of a prototype pilot plant that will serve as a model for future full-scale plants in Europe.
Barrier materials such as aluminium foil land synthetic plastics, which are currently used in food packaging, have a major negative impact on the environment with aluminium foil in multi-layer packaging being difficult to recycle and requiring a lot of energy to produce, and oil-based plastics creating carbon-dioxide emissions and increase the greenhouse effect, said Xylophane.
Håkan Grubb, managing director of Xylophane, said the support would make it possible to scale-up the technology.
“In turn, this also means that we are one step closer to a commercial product and that our customers can benefit from the advantages of our renewable barrier material.
“We are already seeing major interest from our customers within the packaging industry and from foodstuff producers in both Europe and North America where we have several ongoing cooperative projects.
“Naturally, we are open to additional contacts with players and companies that want to participate in the industrial phase and continued development of the company," added Håkan.
The technology is based on research at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden which lead to the formation of the Xylophane company to develop the commercial product.
LIFE is the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental and nature conservation projects throughout the EU.