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Seaweed coating for food packaging

By Rod Addy , 15-Feb-2013

A €1.26m project examining food packaging coatings made from seaweed has been launched by several stakeholder groups across the supply chain.

The initiative, dubbed PlantPack, is funded through the European Commission’s Framework Programme 7. It aims to develop a barrier coating made from seaweed as an eco-friendly alternative to standard petroleum-based coatings.

Previous research has already raised the possibility of using seaweed for biopackaging.

Financial instability

The innovation would help packaging manufacturers and food processors avoid the financial instability inherent on relying on these more traditional coatings, costs for which fluctuate as oil prices see-saw.

“…The food packaging sector is searching for an alternative reliable and sustainable coating product,” states the EU Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS).

The food industry is still using many traditional petroleum-based coatings, which are derived from petrochemical waxes and polymers.

Promote recyclability

The proposed coating would cover packaging materials such as paper wraps, cartons and cardboard and would promote their recyclability, according to CORDIS.

“… Currently this is difficult, as petroleum-based coatings commonly used for this purpose reduce the compostability of paper.

“Our proposed research project, PlantPack, will aim to develop a sustainable, eco-friendly food packaging coating product made from seaweed extracts and starch, which will be applied to paper and cardboard in the form of a spray.”

The project began at the start of this year and is scheduled for completion at the end of October 2014. The total cost is estimated to be €1,258,826.

Too early to say more

The UK’s Paint Research Association is coordinating it. However, the organisation refused to comment to FoodProductionDaily about the venture, claiming it was too early to say more.

Participants include Mantrose UK, which specialises in edible coatings and specialty products for the pharmaceutical, confectionery, agricultural, food and industrial industries.

Alexir Packaging, another UK firm, is also involved, as are Spain’s Instituto Technologico Delembalaje Transporte Y Logistica and Seaweed Canarias.

In addition, Turkey’s Altin Gida, which makes red and white meat products, and Poland’s packaging firm Yanko are taking part.

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